Rhode Island Poised to Make History in the Race for Offshore Wind

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Channing Jones

Environment Rhode Island Research & Policy Center, National Wildlife Federation

Providence, RI – As the clock ticks down for Congress to extend critical tax credits for wind power, a new report shows that with continued state and federal leadership, Rhode Island could be the first state with offshore wind.

The new report, The Turning Point for Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy, identifies key building blocks that local, state, and federal officials have put in place to usher in a future with offshore wind. Authored by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), the report was released today in Providence by Environment Rhode Island, the Conservation Law Foundation, and Rhode Island’s state NWF affiliate, the Environment Council of Rhode Island (ECRI).

“Rhode Island has immense untapped offshore wind energy resources,” said Channing Jones, Program Associate with Environment Rhode Island and executive committee member with ECRI.  “Rhode Island can make history by being the first state to produce pollution-free energy from offshore wind development. Our leaders must act now, first by demanding that Congress extend the offshore wind tax credit before it expires at the end of the year, and by moving forward with proposed offshore wind projects in Rhode Island.”

“We can bring these projects over the finish line in a way that values a fair and expeditious review process, protects our precious ocean ecosystem and its fish and wildlife resources, creates jobs, and ends our reliance on the dirty fossil fuels that are wreaking havoc on our planet,” said Tricia K. Jedele, Vice President of CLF and Director of the Rhode Island Advocacy Center, and President of ECRI.

Rhode Island’s leaders have been laying the groundwork to ramp up offshore wind. Governor Lincoln Chafee, for instance, has been a strong supporter of the offshore wind energy initiatives started by former Governor Carcieri. For Rhode Island, offshore wind will be an important resource to help the state meet its goal of producing 16 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2019.

“America’s Atlantic coast has some of the best offshore wind energy resources in the world, the technology to harvest it is ready right now, and we have workers ready to do the job,” said Catherine Bowes, the National Wildlife Federation’s senior manager for new energy solutions and lead author of the report. “We need to take advantage of this golden opportunity to make our electricity supply cleaner, more wildlife-friendly, and more secure.”

The broad base of support for offshore wind was demonstrated in late July when more than two-hundred environmental organizations, businesses, and local and state officials from up and down the Atlantic coast wrote a letter to federal officials calling for bold action to accelerate the development of offshore wind.  

“Rhode Island is well-positioned to take advantage of the huge clean energy source just off its coast,” said Bill Moore, CEO of Deepwater Wind. “Offshore wind can not only power thousands of homes and businesses, but it can create many high-paying, new jobs right here in the state by tapping into one of our great domestic sources of power.”

State and national partners including business leaders, local and state elected officials, labor groups and environmental and clean energy organizations released the new report today up and down the Atlantic Coast. These groups call on state and federal officials to take the following steps to ensure the swift, environmentally sound ramp-up of offshore wind in the Atlantic:
    – Set a bold goal for offshore wind energy development in the Atlantic Ocean to provide clear leadership and vision.
    – Take decisive action to advance offshore wind energy development goals, including helping confront the financial challenges facing this new industry by extending the federal offshore wind investment tax credit, among other policies.
    – Ensure that offshore wind projects are sited, constructed, and operated responsibly in order to protect wildlife and avoid conflicts with other ocean uses.
    – Increase stakeholder coordination and public engagement.


Environment Rhode Island is a statewide, citizen-based environmental organization.

Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) protects New England’s environment for the benefit of all people. Using the law, science and the market, CLF creates solutions that preserve natural resources, build healthy communities, and sustain a vibrant economy region-wide.

Environment Council of Rhode Island (state affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation) is a coalition of organizations and individuals serving to develop and advocate policies and laws that protect and enhance Rhode Island’s environment.