New York Times, Thursday July 24, 2015
A few miles off the coast of Block Island, part of Rhode Island, a small flotilla has been gathering: crane vessels, tugboats and barges that began this week installing the 1,500-ton foundations of the nation’s first commercial-scale offshore wind farm.
It’s a moment that its supporters have long anticipated, billing it as nothing less than the dawn of a new clean energy future for the United States, which lags Europe and China in harnessing ocean gusts for electricity.
It is a much more modest beginning than was originally expected. Only five turbines will spin in the waters off Rhode Island; other, more ambitious projects like Cape Wind in Nantucket Sound and its 130 turbines remain stalled. But its backers see it as one that could lend credibility to other efforts.
“Steel in the water off Block Island is an important step in proving that offshore wind is a viable technology off the coast of the United States,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which oversees leasing federal waters. “Having an offshore wind project that people can see and understand and study will take away a lot of the concerns that folks had.”