BY JENNIFER McDERMOTT
Rhode Island leaders want offshore wind power to provide more of the state’s electricity to solidify its position as an industrial hub, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and set an example for other states looking to stave off the worst effects of a warming planet .
The General Assembly is considering Democratic Gov. Dan McKee’s proposal to procure an additional 600 megawatts of offshore wind power, enough to power about 340,000 homes annually.
McKee said Wednesday that the expansion of Rhode Island’s offshore wind resources will continue to position it “as a North American hub” for industry. The US’s first offshore wind farm opened in 2016 off Block Island, Rhode Island.
US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm praised Rhode Island for its role in offshore wind energy development when she visited the Port of Providence in December. The Biden administration wants to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030, generating enough electricity to power more than 10 million homes.
State Senator Dawn Euer, a Newport Democrat, sponsored legislation in the Rhode Island Senate to issue a call for proposals for 600 megawatts of newly developed offshore wind capacity no later than August 15. She said on Wednesday that with a “strong and brave” Procurement, the state can continue to talk about offshore wind expansion.
“We do it responsibly, we do it sustainably, and we do it aggressively,” said Your, who chairs the Senate Environment and Agriculture Committee.
Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, as Rhode Island Governor in 2020, signed an executive order setting a goal of using 100% renewable energy for the electricity grid by 2030. Democratic Senate President Dominick Ruggerio introduced a bill in February that would codify that goal into law, expedite current plans and outline the way forward.
And the state’s climate law, signed into law by McKee last year, sets mandatory emissions reduction targets culminating in aggregate net-zero emissions by 2050, meaning the amount of greenhouse gases produced is no more than the amount removed from the atmosphere .
“Here in Rhode Island, there is an urgency to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy,” Rhode Island Energy Commissioner Nicholas Ucci said Wednesday. “Offshore wind power is a resource that is very close to home, can be developed on a large scale, and can provide very cheap energy.”
Rhode Island already sources 30 megawatts of power from the Block Island wind farm and plans to purchase 400 megawatts through the Revolution Wind project, a proposed offshore wind farm south of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, to power Connecticut and Rhode Island. Adding another 600 megawatts would provide about half the power the state projects will need in 2030, Ucci said.
Ucci added that as more renewable resources come online, since Rhode Island is part of the New England regional power grid, the entire region’s dependence on fossil fuels will be supplanted. The Democratic Lt. gov. Sabina Matos said Rhode Island is setting an example for the rest of the nation by developing offshore wind energy to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions “Net Zero”.
McKee planned to meet with state lawmakers and agency leaders at the Port of Providence on Wednesday to raise awareness of the proposal.