The US Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has completed its review of critical design and installation reports for the South Fork Wind project, clearing the way for the start of turbine construction offshore Rhode Island and New York.
The project becomes the first commercial-scale offshore wind energy project in federal waters in the United States to be approved to start turbine construction.
South Fork Wind was approved by the DOI’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) in November 2021 and will directly create around 165 jobs over the two-year construction period, as well approximately 10 long-term operations and maintenance jobs.
With BSEE’s completion of the 60-day review of the project’s Facility Design Report and Fabrication and Installation Report, the project will now begin the historic step of constructing and installing offshore wind turbines on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), with an estimated completion date of summer 2023.
“Two years ago, President Biden issued a bold challenge to move America towards a clean energy future. The Interior Department answered that call and is moving rapidly to create a robust and sustainable clean energy economy with good-paying union jobs,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “As we celebrate the advancement of the South Fork Wind project, we look forward to continued progress that will help communities across America be part of the climate solution.”
The South Fork Wind project is being developed by a 50/50 joint venture partnership between Ørsted and Eversource. Twelve turbines will generate 130 megawatts (MW) of clean energy, enough to power over 70,000 homes and businesses. An underground transmission line will deliver power to the local grid in the Town of East Hampton, NY.
BSEE Director Kevin Sligh hailed the announcement a significant milestone for the Biden-Harris administration and the Department’s progress in offshore wind development. “The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement has the important responsibility of reviewing renewable energy projects and is committed to ensuring they will be built and operated in a safe and environmentally sustainable manner,” Sligh said.
The review follows the transfer of regulations governing offshore renewable energy activities — including workplace safety and environmental compliance — from BOEM to BSEE, in January 2023.
The Biden-Harris administration has set a goal to deploy 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind energy by 2030.
Ørsted also operates the first offshore wind project in the U.S., the 30-MW Block Island Wind Farm, which began operations in 2016 off the coast of Rhode Island. Dominion Energy has a two-turbine test project in operation off the coast of Virginia, part of the initial phase for the 2.6-GW Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind which is expected to be completed in 2026.
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