Deepwater Wind is proposing to construct the Block Island Wind Farm (BIWF), a 30 megawatt (MW) offshore wind farm located southeast of Block Island, Rhode Island. Deepwater Wind Block Island Transmission, LLC is proposing to develop the Block Island Transmission System (BITS), a 19-mile submerged transmission cable from Block Island to the Rhode Island mainland. The BIWF will consist of five 6 MW direct-drive wind turbine generators (WTGs), a submarine cable interconnecting the WTGs (Inter-Array Cable), and a 34.5-kV transmission cable approximately 6 miles from the northernmost WTG to an interconnection point on Block Island (Export Cable). The BIWF site is located within the RI Ocean Special Area Management Plan Renewable Energy Zone. The WTGs would be attached to the seafloor using jacket foundations with an approximate hub height above mean low water of 388 feet and a rotor diameter of up to 541 feet, for a total height of approximately 659 feet. The submarine cables will be brought ashore using horizontal directional drilling from points off of Block Island and Narragansett. The project includes construction of two new substations, one on Block Island to connect the BIWF Export Cable and BITS to the BI Power Company transmission system and one in Narragansett to connect the BITS line to the National Grid transmission system.
The Corps has made a determination that the BIWF and BITS may affect but are not likely to adversely affect terrestrial and marine protected species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed with our determination; the National Marine Fisheries Service is still reviewing. 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.
A complete Section 10/404 application was submitted in September 2012. Our Public Notice seeking comment was published in October 2012 and later extended twice before closing on Feb. 10, 2013. Interagency meetings continue. RIDEM held three Public Hearings in 2013. CRMC will hold Public Hearings in early 2014. The permits were signed September 4, 2014.