Cape Wind eyes Rhode Island base

Cape Wind Associates has obtained an option to lease 13.8 acres (5.5ha) of space at the waterfront Quonset Business Park in Rhode Island that the developer could use as a second assembly and staging area for its 468MW offshore wind project.

It has until 1 April 2015 to sign the lease.

The developer also has a lease option to utilize a dedicated offshore wind terminal in the former whaling port of New Bedford, Massachusetts.

That facility, which Massachusetts officials have touted as the centerpiece for the emerging offshore wind industry in New England, is under construction.

Dennis Duffy, vice president for government affairs at Cape Wind Associates’ parent company Energy Management Inc. (EMI), told the Providence Journal that it could require both ports for the 130-turbine project. EMI is weighing a final decision.

Rhode Island-based developer Deepwater Wind is also leasing space at Quonset to assemble and stage both its 30MW demonstration project in state waters off Block Island and a proposed 200-turbine facility in federal waters.

"As Cape Wind continues to ramp up for the construction of their wind farm off the coast of Cape Cod, we are positioned to support their project," says Steven J. King, managing director of the Quonset Development Corp. “A project of this magnitude will require the key assets of both Rhode Island and Massachusetts to be available.“

In part, EMI has won political support in Massachusetts by touting the project’s capacity for job creation in New Bedford and elsewhere.

European suppliers will fabricate turbine components, monopiles and transition pieces – all labor-intensive activities. Cianbro in Maine will fabricate the substation platform and foundation while cable will come from elsewhere in the US.

How many potential jobs could be lost if work is diverted to Quonset is unclear.