Winner named in auction for rights to wind energy off New England coast

September 8, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Block Island, near where the lease is located, already approved a plan for a separate group of turbines proposed by Deepwater Wind late last year and is going through the permit process in Rhode Island.

This separate wind farm would help to reduce by half the amount of money Block Islanders pay for their electricity, Stephanie Turaj, a reporter for the Block Island Times, told Al Jazeera.

The vacation spot has a year-round population of around 1,000 people, but that amount triples during the summer, Turaj said.

Set come on line in 2015, the proposed wind farm sparked heated debates among islanders and was narrowly approved by a three-to-two vote on the island’s council.

“There was a large backlash. It’s been one of the more controversial issues on the island,” Turaj said.

A group called Deepwater Resistance formed a political action committee in July to oppose the proposed route of the electric cable that would come onto Block Island from the turbine.

“If Deepwater doesn’t change the plans, we’re going to really go into high gear and mobilize public opinion,” Robert Shields, a resident of the island, told the Block Island Times.

Another batch of wind farms off the coast of Cape Cod, approved by the federal government in 2012, has been met with lawsuits and fierce opposition from residents of the vacation spot.

Opponents of the wind turbines in Nantucket Sound say the constructions will harm birds and spoil the area’s natural beauty.

“Its size and location would make it a major threat to the safety of air and sea travel in and around Nantucket Sound,” one group, Save our Sound, argues on its website. “Further, it would devastate commercial fishing in the sound, desecrate a national treasure and sacred tribal lands, and threaten endangered birds and marine mammals.”

Wind farms on land in states including Maine, Illinois, Texas, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts have prompted complaints and lawsuits from nearby residents due to noise and vibrations from the turbines.

The world’s first offshore wind farms were constructed off the coast of Denmark in 1991.

The Department of Interior is slated to hold another auction in September for wind turbines off the coast of Virginia.

Wilson Dizard contributed to this report. Al Jazeera and wire services

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