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Posted 10/2/2012

Release no. 2012-094


Contact
Tim Dugan
978-318-8264
cenae-pa@usace.army.mil

CONCORD, Mass. – Deepwater Wind Block Island, LLC and Deepwater Wind Block Island Transmission System, LLC (known collectively as Deepwater Wind) are seeking a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District to construct five wind turbine generators and do other work off the southeast coast of Block Island, Rhode Island.

Deepwater Wind Block Island, LLC proposes to construct and maintain the Block Island Wind Farm (BIWF), a 30-megawatt offshore wind farm located in Rhode Island territorial waters. The BIWF will consist of five 6-megawatt wind turbine generators (WTG), a submarine cable interconnecting the five WTGs, and a 34.5-kilovolt submarine transmission cable from the northernmost WTG to an interconnection point on east-central Block Island where the cable will go ashore to a new substation built at the existing Block Island Power Company property.

In connection with the BIWF, Deepwater Wind Block Island Transmission System, LLC proposes to construct the Block Island Transmission System (BITS), a 34.5-kilovolt alternating current bi-directional submarine transmission cable from Block Island to the Rhode Island mainland. Deepwater Wind has submitted an Environmental Report as part of their application. It is available for review at: www.dwwind.com/block-island/block-island-project-overview. Paper copies are available at the Block Island Town Hall and at the Maury Loontjens Memorial Library in Narragansett.

The five WTGs are proposed to be built approximately 3 statute miles off of the southeast coast of Block Island in Rhode Island Sound (Atlantic Ocean). The BITS will make landfall on east-central Block Island at the same location as the BIWF cable and will also interconnect at a new substation built at the existing Block Island Power Company property. The BITS will make landfall on the Rhode Island mainland in the town of Narragansett. The project will also include upgrades.

The BIWF will be located entirely within Rhode Island state territorial waters. According to Deepwater Wind, the BIWF is expected to generate approximately 125,500 megawatt-hours each year once it is fully operational, supplying enough energy to power approximately 17,200 Rhode Island households.

The Corps has made a preliminary determination that the BIWF and BITS may affect but are not likely to adversely affect terrestrial and marine protected species. Further consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service regarding threatened and endangered species is being conducted and will be concluded prior to the final permit decision.

The BIWF will temporarily impact approximately 16.55 acres of Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) during construction and permanently impact approximately 0.74 acre during operation. The BIWF area will affect some EFH species and life stages. This habitat consists mainly of sands with some areas of cobble and boulders. The cable installation portion of this project will temporarily impact a maximum of 47.02 acres of EFH during construction and permanently impact a maximum of 1.33 acres during operation for various species and life stages. Habitat at this site can be described as sands and silts.

Deepwater Wind has minimized impacts to fish and invertebrate species by siting the project to avoid direct impacts to important habitats such as eelgrass and hard bottom substrates known to be used by some species throughout various life stages. Deepwater Wind has also minimized impacts on marine habitats by selecting construction techniques and equipment (e.g., jet-plowing, horizontal directional drill and dynamic positioning vessels) that substantially minimize disturbance and alteration of substrate during construction activities. However, despite this effort it is unavoidable that some marine habitats will be temporarily degraded (both water column and bottom habitat) and/or altered from the BIWF and BITS activities.

Loss of Essential Fish Habitat may adversely affect some of the species. However, the Corps has made a preliminary determination that the site-specific adverse effect will not be substantial. Further consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service regarding Essential Fish Habitat conservation recommendations is being conducted and will be concluded prior to the final permit decision.

The application for the federal permit was filed by Deepwater Wind with the Corps in compliance with Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act, which provides for federal regulation of any work in, or affecting navigable waters of the United States; and with Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, which regulates the discharge or fill of material in U.S. waters, including wetlands. The Corps public notice, with more detailed information, can be viewed at http://www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/PublicNotices.aspx.

Public comments on this proposed work by Deepwater Wind (file # NAE-2009-789) should be forwarded no later than Nov. 19, 2012 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Regulatory Division (ATTN: Michael Elliott), 696 Virginia Road, Concord, MA 01742-2751. Additional information is available from Permit Project Manager Michael Elliott at 978-318-8131 or toll free 800-343-4789 or 800-362-4367 (if calling from within Massachusetts) or by email to: michael.j.elliott@usace.army.mil.