Just days ago, the United States’ first offshore wind turbines starting spinning to life. Before this, the country’s wind power was harnessed completely on land. The offshore wind farm, consisting of 5 turbines, is located off the coast of Rhode Island. The goal of the farm is to provide electricity for nearby Block Island, a small community roughly 13 miles off of Rhode Island’s mainland. The Block Island wind farm represents the country’s first successful venture of offshore wind development and will be able to supply 17,000 homes with electricity. Approximately 90% of Block Island’s needs are expected to be fulfilled through the energy generated by the farm, and it is estimated that it will represent 1% of the state’s total electricity. While 5 turbines may seem like a small amount, the farm cost $300 million to construct and will save 40,000 tons of CO2 emissions each year.
I believe this is fantastic news for not only the state of Rhode Island, but the entire country at large. While wind power is complicated, with high costs, property rights to the sea-floor, and possible aesthetic disruptions, I think we can expand upon our wind energy programs to develop a more efficient and cost-effective strategy. In Europe, for example, thousands of wind turbines sit on the coastlines, providing more than 100 times the amount of power generated by the wind farm in Block Island However, while I support the farm and its mission, I question if it will stand alone in our nation’s waters. With a new presidential administration on the horizon, the rise of wind power does not seem promising. Donald Trump has said himself, “the wind is a very deceiving thing,” and that wind power, “kills all the birds.” This is despite the fact that only 100 golden eagles are estimated to be killed by wind turbines each year and the cost of wind power has been reduced by over 65% since 2010.
Moving forward, I believe the wind farm will thrive and be able to provide clean energy for the people of Block Island and Rhode Island, and I hope that ventures such as this continue to develop and prosper in the coming years, so we can move towards a more sustainable society, even in the wake of an administration that does not believe in climate change.