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Rhode Island Could Get North America's First Offshore Wind Farm

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The governor of Rhode Island signed a final agreement yesterday with Deepwater Wind for a big offshore wind farm for the tiny state, announcing that construction is expected to start in late 2010. That puts the $1.5 billion, 400 MW project in line to be the first offshore wind farm constructed in North America, according to Gov. Donald Carcieri.

Although there are numerous offshore wind farms in Europe, offshore projects have met with repeated resistance in the U.S., either due to cost, or, in the case of Cape Wind in Massachusetts, vocal opposition to turbines from prominent residents, who fear that such development could ruin their ocean view.

Carcieri first announced a deal with Deepwater Wind back in September after putting out a request for proposals earlier in the year. Deepwater Wind, backed by First Wind, DE Shaw & Co. and Ospraie Management, has since made another deal for a big offshore wind project in New Jersey.

The Rhode Island project is likely to be a little late in meeting the governor’s original target of generating enough power to cover 15 percent of the state’s electricity needs by 2012. Phase One of the project, to go in state waters, is expected to be complete in late June 2012 and generate 20 MW of power. A timeline for Phase Two, which will go in federal waters, has yet to be released. Deepwater Wind will first need approval from the Minerals Management Service, part of the Department of the Interior, for a lease of submerged federal lands to build the larger wind farm.

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