Future Is Now for Offshore Wind

“These are trailblazing projects,” says Eversource’s Bill Quinlan during a tour of the country’s first commercial-scale offshore wind farm.

About 20 miles off the eastern coast of Block Island and 35 miles from Montauk Point sits a unique “farm.“

Twelve wind turbines, each 18 stories higher than Connecticut’s tallest building, make up South Fork Wind, the country’s first commercial-scale offshore wind farm.

The farm, a collaboration between Ørsted and Eversource Energy, will power 70,000 homes on Long Island. 

The companies, along with the Southeastern Connecticut Enterprise Region and the Connecticut Wind Collaborative gave employees, state and local officials, and partners an up-close look at the completed wind farm and the construction underway at nearby Revolution Wind. 

‘Trailblazing Projects’

“These are trailblazing projects,” said Bill Quinlan, president of transmission and offshore wind projects at Eversource Energy.

“We are the epicenter now for offshore wind for the state of Connecticut,” added Connecticut Wind Collaborative executive director Kristin Urbach.

Development of South Fork Wind began in 2013, when the lease for the seabed was obtained from the federal government.

The South Fork offshore wind farm sits 20 miles off the coast of Block Island and 35 miles from Montauk Point.
The South Fork Wind Farm sits 20 miles off the coast of Block Island and 35 miles from Montauk Point.

Construction began in February 2022, with more than 350 workers from three different states involved in the project.

“We are the poster child for how it’s supposed to be done when it comes to collaboration,” said seCTer executive director Paul Whitescarver. 

“Not only when you look at Eversource and Ørsted and the work that they’ve done to make this possible with the state, but also by our regionalization and our collaboration with other states.”

Size, Scale

Officials shared some facts and information to give perspective of the size and scale of South Fork Wind:

  • Each turbine can generate 11 megawatts of power during good winds
  • Turbines are a nautical mile apart to allow vessels to safely navigate through the farm
  • Foundations sit in water ranging from 100-150 feet deep
  • Foundations are custom engineered for the water depth and to withstand the force of wind and waves 
  • Turbine towers are 30 feet across and reach 460 feet above sea level
  • At the top of the tower sits the cell and rotor, which are the size of a three story house
  • The cell contains generators that turn wind energy into electricity 
  • Three blades attach to each rotor
  • Blades are carbon fiber and fiberglass to minimize weight
  • Each blade is 319 feet long, about the length of a football field
  • When the blades reach the peak of their rotation, the turbine extends 780 feet above sea level
  • Each turbine links to the country’s first offshore wind substation
  • The substation converts the power and routes it to land
  • A team of technicians maintains the turbines and substation
  • The farm is expected to be online for 25 years or more

“It’s impressive to see the scale of this wind farm up close, and learn about the innovation and technology that made it a reality,” said CBIA public policy associate Pete Myers.

“And it’s inspiring to see this collaboration lead to fantastic results for our workforce and economy moving forward.”

Long-Term Effort

Quinlan said South Fork Wind is the beginning of a long-term effort to develop the offshore wind in the region.

“The scale and impact of these projects is going to increase dramatically from what you’ve seen thus far,” Quinlan said.

He said the goal is to provide tens of thousands of megawatts of clean energy. 

Revolution Wind will be more than five times bigger than South Fork Wind when it’s completed.

“These are transformational, once-in-a-generation types of opportunities.”

Eversource Energy’s Bill Quinlan

It will have 65 turbines providing 900 megawatts of power to more than 350,000 residents in Connecticut and Rhode Island.

The Revolution Wind project hit a milestone with the installation of the foundation for its first turbine.

And Quinlan said the New England states are applying for federal funding to develop 4,800 megawatts of offshore wind power.

Half of that would be targeted for southeastern Connecticut. 

“We should be thinking at a much grander scale,” Quinlan said. “For southeastern Connecticut, these are transformational, once-in-a-generation types of opportunities.”

Regional Asset

The May 14 tour departed from New London, near the State Pier where turbine components are staged and assembled. 

“That State Pier, though it’s taken a few years to develop, is now fully operational,” said Quinlan. “It is probably the best staging and assembly location on the eastern seaboard, probably in the country for offshore wind.”

“The jobs that we’re bringing, the benefits that we’re bringing for this project and for the other projects that are happening wouldn’t have occurred without the foresight in the vision to turn the state pier into a regional asset that’s really unique in this industry on the East Coast,” said David Ortiz, Ørsted’s head of government affairs and market strategy in the Northeast.

Components for offshore wind farms are staged and assembled at the State Pier in New London.
Components for the wind farms are staged and assembled at the State Pier in New London.

Officials with Ørsted and Eversource said the Revolution Wind project is creating about 1,200 jobs in Connecticut and Rhode Island. 

“We are proud of the role Connecticut has played to-date in launching the industry for our country,” said Gov. Ned Lamont. 

“With Revolution Wind gearing up, we will see even more local jobs on the ground at State Pier and soon have more clean energy powering our state’s homes and businesses.”


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