Deepwater Wind to Protect Endangered Whales
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 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.
Deepwater Wind in July 2013 acquired a 30-year lease to develop the Deepwater ONE project in the Rhode Island-Massachusetts Wind Energy Area, located in Rhode Island Sound, after winning the first-ever competitive lease auction for offshore wind energy development in America. The lease area covers approximately 256 square miles in the Atlantic Ocean, roughly 30 miles east of Montauk, N.Y. and roughly 17 miles south of Rhode Island, between Block Island, R.I., and Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.
“By working with CLF and our partners to protect North Atlantic right whales and other marine mammals, Deepwater Wind shows that offshore wind can achieve its potential to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels while maintaining great sensitivity to our important natural resources,” said Tricia K. Jedele, Vice President and Director of Conservation Law Foundation’s Rhode Island Advocacy Center.
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.
Construction at the Deepwater ONE site could begin as early as 2017, with commercial operations by 2018. Deepwater ONE will produce enough energy to power approximately 120,000 homes annually and displace significant greenhouse gas emissions annually.
Press Release, May 08, 2014; Image: gadnr