First U.S. offshore wind farm moves ahead with $290M in financing

What is likely to become the nation's first offshore wind farm has closed on more than $290 million in financing, which will allow a five-turbine demo of the renewable energy system to be completed.

The Block Island Wind Farm is a 30-megawatt offshore wind farm that will be located about three miles southeast of Block Island. Being developed by Deepwater Wind, the renewable energy system will initially consist of 5 turbines capable of producing 30 megawatts (MW) of power.

"We're ecstatic to reach financial close," Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski said in a statement. "We're full speed ahead and moving ever closer to 'steel in the water.'"

If all goes well, Deepwater Wind plans to follow the Block Island Wind Farm with the Deepwater ONE project, a 150-200 turbine project also in Rhode Island Sound that will be capable of generating from 900MW to 1,200MW. Deepwater ONE will produce enough electricity to power about 350,000 homes and eliminate more than 1.7 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. That's the equivalent of taking 4 million cars off of the road or 40 million barrels of foreign oil imports.

Construction of the Block Island Wind Farm has already begun. Alstom, a turbine maker based in France, has already completed fabrication of five 6MW offshore wind turbines for the project, along with 15 windmill blades.

Deepwater Wind plans to begin offshore installation of the Block Island project this summer. The wind farm is expected to online by the end of 2016.

Electricity from the wind farm will be transferred to the mainland electric grid via the 21-mile, bi-directional Block Island Transmission System, a submarine cable proposed to make landfall in Narragansett, R.I.

Deepwater Wind Block Island has received the financing from Mandated Lead Arrangers Societe Generale of Paris, France, and KeyBank National Association of Cleveland, Ohio.

Another nearby wind farm project, the 130-turbine Cape Wind project in Massachusetts, has yet to secure financing and pen critical power-purchase agreements with utilities National Grid and NStar. Cape Wind suffered another setback last week when a lease on port facilities in New Bedford also fell through.


Lucas Mearian

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