RI - Coastal Management Council Delays Final Vote on Revolution Wind to May 9

A yes vote by CRMC would be essential to permitting the offshore wind project

Mindful of concessions and mitigation actions promised by the developers of the proposed Revolution Wind project, staff of the Coastal Resources Management Council have recommendedthe council vote yes on the project, thereby declaring that it conforms with the state’s coastal management plan.

But after hearing four hours of arguments from fishermen and the public at its April 25 meeting and with several people still waiting to comment at 10 p.m., the CRMC board took no vote, continuing the matter to its May 9 meeting.

A yes vote, declaring that the project is consistent with the state’s Ocean Special Area Management Plan, would be essential to permitting the wind facility, which still is awaiting final approval on the federal level from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).

“Mitigation and project modifications” to which developers Ørsted and Eversource have made commitments “will allow the project to meet our policies,” said Kevin Sloan, an analyst working for the council.

The Revolution Wind project, in the planning for years, would position about 65 turbines across 84,000 acres of the Outer Continental Shelf about 15 miles southwest of Point Judith. When completed, it is expected to deliver 704 megawatts (MW) of power, of which 400 would be bought and used in Rhode Island and 304 would go to Connecticut. The project would have two offshore substations. Export cables on the seafloor would bring power to the land-based grid at Quonset Point.

The final environmental impact statement for the project is expected to be published in June. Construction work, if the project is approved, would begin in 2024, starting with seabed preparation beginning in January, foundation and turbine placement in May, cable installation in July, and remediation, if needed, toward the end of that year.


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Attorneys for the Fishermen’s Advisory Board (FAB), which is extremely wary of the project, along with Ørsted and Eversource, the two co-developers of Revolution Wind, presented statements to the council. Speakers also included people arguing for the need for renewable energy and local fishermen, who fear the impact of the 84,000-acre project on important fishing grounds, including the revered Coxes Ledge, a habitat for cod.

The plan has been under study by the council for a year and half, a period that included a lot of negotiation with Ørsted and the commercial and recreational fishing communities.

Ørsted has promised to create a fund of $12.9 million to compensate fishermen for losses due to construction and operation of the project over its lifetime of about 30 years. Rate of loss is estimated by Ørsted and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute at 5% annually. Ørsted would also put money into a fund to study the environmental impacts of the wind facility over time.

In contrast, a FAB spokesperson said an appropriate amount for the fund based on losses to the industry would be $21.6 million.

To ease concerns of fishermen and others worried about the impact on the ocean, Ørsted reduced the number of planned wind turbines to 65 from 100. Ørsted representatives said turbine locations were eliminated to entirely avoid areas of glacial moraine on the seabed, which is complex hard surface where some important fish species live and feed.

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