Offshore Wind Project to Go Live as Industry Eyes Trump

winmd farm 12 11The Block Island Wind Farm in Rhode Island is the United States' first-ever offshore wind farm.
Credit: NREL/flickr

In a few days, the water-bound wind turbines off of Rhode Island’s Block Island are expected to generate electricity commercially for the first time, and New Englanders are set to become the first in U.S. history to use electric power generated from an offshore wind turbine.  

The Block Island Wind Project is the first commercial offshore wind farm ever built in the U.S., and the start of its operation marks the the beginning of a brand new clean energy industry in the United States.

The occasion comes at a time when offshore wind developers and investors await more information about how their fledgling industry will be affected by the incoming Trump administration.

President-elect Donald Trump has been openly critical of renewable energy — especially wind power. He has said climate change is a hoax and has nominated a climate change denier to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Trump has said he opposes an offshore wind farm within view of his Scotland golf course and he has criticized wind turbines as bird killers. Others leading his transition have also been skeptical of renewables, including Thomas Pyle, the head of Trump’s energy transition team.

The offshore wind industry is optimistic about the progress it has made in state legislatures, but because the industry is so dependent on the federal government for expansion, its future is uncertain. That uncertainty comes after a wave of progress made during the Obama administration.

“It’s really tough to know where things stand,” said John Rogers, a climate and energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “It’s a wait-and-see time. We’re looking at what kind of team he’ll assemble. If (Trump is) serious about jobs, he can’t ignore offshore wind.”

Offshore wind is one of America’s largest untapped energy sources. As part of its strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to prevent global warming from exceeding 2°C (3.6°F), the Obama administration unveiled a plan in September to

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