A coalition of leading environmental and conservation organizations — Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and National Wildlife Federation (NWF) — and Deepwater Wind have announced an agreement to implement additional protections for endangered North Atlantic right whales during pre-construction activities for the Deepwater ONE offshore wind farm, which will be developed off the Rhode Island and Massachusetts coasts.
CLF, NRDC and NWF have developed a set of protective measures with Deepwater Wind that will minimize potential impacts on North Atlantic right whales and other marine mammals from underwater noise and construction vessels during the developer’s site characterization and assessment activities.
“We take our responsibility to be a national leader in responsible offshore wind development very seriously, and ensuring marine mammals are protected is just one way we’re fulfilling our commitment,” said Jeffrey Grybowski, CEO of Deepwater Wind.
Designed to serve Long Island and New England, Deepwater ONE is the nation’s first 1,000 MW-scale offshore regional energy center. In 2013, Deepwater Wind won from the U.S. government the exclusive right to develop the 256 square mile Deepwater ONE site. As the first of the “second generation” of offshore wind farms in the United States, it is larger, farther from shore, capable of producing cheaper electricity, and uses newer technology than offshore wind projects proposed in the United States to date. Deepwater ONE is planned as a 150-200 turbine project with an approximate nameplate capacity of 900-1,200 MW.
The measures outlined in the agreement provide further protections for the North Atlantic right whales, including a commitment by Deepwater Wind to avoid all noise-producing activities during specific periods in the spring when North Atlantic right whales have been known to frequent Rhode Island Sound, as well as reduced speed limits for all vessels involved in site characterization and assessment activities for the Deepwater ONE project during these periods.
“Offshore wind power benefits wildlife by cutting the industrial carbon pollution that’s fueling climate change, the single biggest threat to wildlife today,” said Catherine Bowes, Senior Manager for Climate and Energy at the National Wildlife Federation. “With this agreement, Deepwater Wind is leading the way to provide additional protections for vulnerable marine mammals as America pursues this new energy frontier that is critically needed to make our power supply cleaner, more wildlife-friendly, and more secure.”
Construction at the Deepwater ONE site could begin as early as 2017, with commercial operations by 2018. Deepwater ONE will produce enough renewable energy to power approximately 120,000 homes annually and displace significant greenhouse gas emissions annually.
Read the details of the latest agreement here: Letter to Bureau of Ocean Management