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Commonwealth Gets Ball Rolling “Big Time” on Wind Power

Massachusetts made history this month by signing into law the largest commitment of any state in the nation to offshore wind power. (Amber Hewett)
Massachusetts made history this month by signing into law the largest commitment of any state in the nation to offshore wind power. (Amber Hewett)
August 19, 2016

BOSTON – August has proved to be a pivotal month for offshore wind power in the Commonwealth and the region.

Catherine Bowes, senior manager for the National Wildlife Federation, cited the turbines now going online off the coast of Rhode Island, and the bill signed into law last week by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.

"A 1,600-megawatt commitment to offshore wind power; this is an historic commitment," she said. "It is the largest-ever state commitment to offshore wind power, for Massachusetts and for the country."

Bowes said the move to offshore wind gets things started, and will produce enough clean energy to power a half-million homes. She said wind power is key to putting a stop to rising global temperatures due to climate change, which she called the "greatest threat to wildlife around the world."

Bowes said resources are available for the Commonwealth to grow wind power to produce 8,000 megawatts, and more.

"That's what's so important about the moving forward, is that now the ball is in Gov. Baker's court to really realize the vision of this policy," said Boews. "And that's the key, moving forward."

When all five turbines are up and operating in Rhode Island, Bowes said, they will generate 30 megawatts of power. She describes it as more than enough to fully power Block Island, replacing an aging diesel-generating station.

As a result, electric rates are expected to drop 40 percent on the island.

"Literally as we speak, the last turbine is going up off of Block Island; and with Massachusetts policy in place, we're finally positioned to charge forward and reap the environmental and economic benefits of offshore wind power," she said.

Bowes noted that the developer, Deepwater Wind, has provided comprehensive ocean planning and leadership to ensure that such wildlife as the endangered North Atlantic right whale are protected as the Block Island Wind Farm develops.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - MA