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South Fork Wind Gets Rhode Island Okay

Thu, 06/10/2021 - 12:14

The Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council formally concluded on June 2 that plans for the South Fork Wind farm, including its 12 turbines and a $12 million fisheries compensation package, are consistent with the state's Ocean Special Area Management Plan. 

The meeting was a continuation of deliberations that took place on May 25. As reported in The Star's May 27 issue, the wind farm's developers announced a "minimization alternative" reducing the number of turbines from 15, as first proposed, to 12. The developers, Orsted U.S. Offshore Wind and Eversource Energy, have entered into a contractual obligation with Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy for 11-megawatt turbines. The developers have also modified the wind farm's layout to a one nautical mile by one nautical mile grid. 

"We're pleased that the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council has approved a consistency concurrence for South Fork Wind, advancing this important offshore wind farm, which will coexist with other ocean uses and bring much-needed jobs and clean energy to the region," said Meaghan Wims, a spokeswoman for the developers. 

The council's fisheries advisory board had strongly objected to its conclusion that the developers' minimization alternative and fisheries compensation package are consistent with the Ocean Special Area Management Plan. Marisa Desautel, an attorney for the advisory board, told the council that her clients had almost boycotted the May 25 meeting, before several of its members criticized the wind farm as described. 

Multiple members of the fisheries advisory board and an economist speaking on their behalf called the fisheries compensation package, $12 million over 30 years or $5.2 million if paid up front, inadequate for what they expect will be long-lasting or even permanent disruption to fertile fishing grounds and their access to them.

Ms. Desautel referred to East Hampton Town and the town trustees' host community agreement with the developers of almost $29 million over 25 years, which was executed earlier this year. That agreement is "for an easement, a right of way," Ms. Desautel said on May 25. The fisheries advisory board, she said, "is being offered $5.2 million where there's far more at stake than an easement."



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