Rhode Island Wind Power Study Points to Offshore Resources

April 25, 2007

More than 95 percent of Rhode Island's potential wind energy resources are located offshore, according to a new study. The Wind Energy Siting Study, commissioned by Governor Donald Carcieri, examined the potential for the state to meet its goal of drawing on wind power for 15 percent of its power needs. The study, released on April 18th, confirmed that the goal is achievable at competitive prices, but only identified one potential onshore location for a large wind energy project. In contrast, the study identified 10 potential offshore areas covering 98 square miles that could produce a total of 6 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity each year, well above the state's goal of 1.3 million MWh per year. About three-quarters of that wind resource is located in state waters, where projects could avoid the federal permitting process.

However, the study notes several challenges to developing these resources, including the lack of U.S. experience with offshore wind power, the lack of sufficient transmission lines near the Rhode Island shore, the difficulty of financing such projects, and uncertainty about public acceptance of such projects. To help address these issues, the governor announced plans to establish a community stakeholder group to select the best locations for wind power, and the state has already held a two-day conference to review the study results. See the governor's press release and download the full report (PDF 12 MB). Download Adobe Reader.