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First US offshore wind farm unlocks vast new ocean energy resource

12/12/16

Block Island, R.I., December 12, 2016 — America’s first offshore wind farm began generating electricity today in the waters near Block Island, Rhode Island, opening a new frontier for American energy production. By continuing to tap into abundant offshore wind resources here at home, more clean, reliable electricity can power American homes and businesses while creating well-paying jobs.

“This is a triumph for the American worker and U.S. energy independence, and it’s just the beginning,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). “Offshore wind presents a unique opportunity for additional U.S. ocean energy development. Scaling up will create well-paying American jobs and drive private investment to strengthen our infrastructure.”

The immediate impacts of Deepwater Wind’s Block Island Wind Farm are substantial. The project now generates enough electricity to supply 17,000 average homes and helps to keep Block Island’s electricity costs down by displacing expensive diesel generators. Local fishermen have reported the newly constructed turbines are already acting as artificial reefs.

There are additional American offshore wind projects in various stages of development off the East, West and Great Lakes coasts and several of these projects could come online before 2030. The overall offshore wind resource potential in the U.S. is estimated to be four times the generating capacity of the entire U.S. electricity grid.

Offshore wind is uniquely able to supply vast amounts of clean, renewable energy to America’s largest coastal cities. This is particularly helpful because offshore winds are the strongest during afternoons and other periods of high energy demand. Coastal states also tend to have the highest average electricity rates.

The offshore wind industry cut its teeth in Europe where over 11,000 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind reliably contributes to the electricity supply. To develop offshore wind at scale, the industry will need to employ thousands of U.S. workers to manufacture, construct and service offshore wind farms. There is also need for American factories that will fabricate the huge components of an offshore wind turbine close to where they are needed, U.S. flagged vessels and crews, as well as upgraded port and electric transmission infrastructure.

“We’ve jumpstarted a new energy industry here in the U.S., with tremendous support of the Block Island community, state and federal officials, and a number of U.S. supply chain partners who see offshore wind as a new opportunity for their business,” said Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski. “The Block Island Wind Farm is just the start of a new energy future for the U.S.”

Block Island Array

Deepwater Wind's Block Island Wind Farm. Photo credit: Deepwater Wind


AWEA is the national trade association of the U.S. wind energy industry. We represent 1,000 member companies and over 100,000 jobs in the U.S. economy, serving as a powerful voice for how wind works for America. Members include global leaders in wind power and energy development, turbine manufacturing, and component and service suppliers. They gather each year at the Western Hemisphere’s largest wind power trade show, the AWEA WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition, next in Chicago, Illinois, May 7-10, 2018. Find information about wind energy on the AWEA website. Gain insight into industry issues on AWEA's blog, Into the Wind. And please join us on Facebook, and follow @AWEA on Twitter.