Governor Raimondo calls for up to 600 MW of new offshore wind energy for Rhode Island

Block Island Wind Farm
Block Island Wind Farm Photo Credit: Deep Water Wind

Governor Gina M. Raimondo announced today that Rhode Island will pursue a competitive request for proposals (RFP) to procure up to 600 MW of new offshore wind energy.

The state is home to North America’s first operational offshore wind farm (Block Island) and, in 2019, received a critical state approval for the 400 MW Revolution Wind offshore project. This latest effort is in-line with Governor Raimondo’s Executive Order 20-01, which placed Rhode Island on a path toward meeting 100 percent of its electricity demand with renewable energy resources by 2030.

“In the face of global climate change, Rhode Island must drive toward a cleaner, more affordable and reliable clean energy future,” said Governor Raimondo. “It is critical that we accelerate our adoption of carbon-free resources to power our homes and businesses, while creating clean energy jobs. In January, I set a nation-leading goal for Rhode Island to meet 100 percent of its electricity demand with renewables by 2030. Offshore wind will help us achieve that bold, but achievable goal, while creating jobs and cementing our status as a major hub in the nation’s burgeoning offshore wind industry.”

The competitive RFP will be developed by National Grid, with oversight by the state Office of Energy Resources, and is subject to approval by the Public Utilities Commission. As of the second quarter of 2020, Rhode Island counted 933 MW of renewable energy in its portfolio, representing a nine-fold increase since 2016.

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“Offshore wind is a vitally-important renewable resource that will help power our decarbonized future – both here in Rhode Island and throughout New England,” said State Energy Commissioner Nicholas Ucci. “Importantly, offshore wind can also help our electric system meet winter peak demand with stability-priced clean electricity, helping temper power price spikes faced by local homes and businesses. Coupled with other locally-developed, carbon-free resources and a continued commitment to robust, cost-effective energy efficiency, the Governor’s goal to meet 100 percent of our electricity demand with renewables by 2030 is within reach. I am committed to ensuring that Rhode Island leverages the benefits of market competition to secure cost-competitive renewables and reduce long-term energy costs, while fostering clean energy jobs and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions across our economy.”

“Among U.S. jurisdictions, Rhode Island is the pioneering state in the offshore wind field,” said Rhode Island Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor. “Given its first-in-the-water status, Rhode Island has positioned itself as a premier destination for offshore wind companies, suppliers, and related enterprises. Under Governor Raimondo, we are pleased to be pursuing a second significant expansion of our turbine constellation, and we look forward to partnering with the industry and key stakeholders to ensure the success of this expansion.” A draft RFP will be filed with state regulators this fall. If approved, a final RFP is anticipated to be issued to the marketplace in early-2021. Any contracts for offshore wind projects resulting from this competitive process will also require separate regulatory approvals.

“Our state, communities and local economies are facing unprecedented challenges as we confront the COVID-19 pandemic, but now more than ever, it’s imperative that we lean into our shared commitments to enable and progress the clean energy transition,” said Terry Sobolewski, President of National Grid Rhode Island. “Expanding large scale renewables across Rhode Island is crucial to delivering clean reliable, affordable, energy for our customers and future generations. We look forward to working with the Office of Energy Resources and other key stakeholders on this important effort.”

This call for additional offshore wind resources is the latest in a series of actions that is increasing the state’s renewable energy capacity. In March 2017, Governor Raimondo set an ambitious goal to accelerate Rhode Island’s adoption of green energy and make the state’s energy system ten-times cleaner by the end of 2020. Today, the state is more than 90 percent of the way toward meeting that goal. Building on this success, in January 2020, Governor Raimondo signed a new executive order committing Rhode Island to meet 100 percent of its electricity demand with renewables by the end of the decade – a nation-leading initiative. Executive Order 20-01 directs the state’s Office of Energy Resources to conduct an economic and energy market analysis and develop actionable policies and programs to reach this goal. Rhode Island is also home to nation-leading, cost-effective energy efficiency programs and recently released a comprehensive report on Heating Sector Transformation in support of a decarbonized energy future.

To read more about how Rhode Island is addressing climate change mitigation and resiliency, please visit: http://climatechange.ri.gov.

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