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Discovering Block Island: America's First Offshore Wind Farm

by Will / August, 12 2015 01:30

Our Discovering Block Island series showcases interesting things about the island and we think this definitely qualifies. It turns out Block Island is set to become the site of America's first offshore wind farm. My first thought - it's surprising we haven't seen one in the United States before. Apparently they are pretty common in Europe but none have made it here yet.

Now some folks are for the wind farm and some are against it. Both financial and environmental cases can be made on either side of the project. Personally have a neutral stance. We can see why it could be good and also understand why it raises concerns. If you want to know more about the issues, we suggest checking out the Block Island TimesDeep Water Resistance and Deep Water Wind.


The Wind Farm

The wind turbines are big! The blades themselves are 240 feet long and they'll be on towers 600 feet high. That's pretty darn tall. Quite a site to behold. The wind farm is set to be three miles southeast of Block Island and is scheduled to generate enough power for 17,000 homes. It will also be connected to National Grid which is the power company serving mainland Rhode Island via an undersea cable buried in the ocean floor.


Connecting to Block Island

One benefit of the project is a cable will be laid from the mainland to Block Island. This cable will connect the island to the onshore power grid and also provide a fiberoptic (read internet) connection. Currently Block Island gets its power from on-island diesel generators which are expensive. This cable should replace these generators although backup / emergency power is one of the issues. What happens if the cable is cut? It is an understandable concern.

As far as the fiber optic connection, currently internet service on the island can be slow. Particularly at times of peak usage. The town still has to figure out how to connect its local network to the new data cable. Hopefully this will improve internet service in the long run.


So that's the general overview of the Deepwater project. It will be interesting to see how it all turns out and we'll try and keep you posted with updates as they come.


Block Island Wind Farm loadout from Duffy & Shanley on Vimeo.


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