Don't Drink the Tea. Think With the WE.
Sep
2016
1

First U.S. Offshore Wind Farm Now Complete, IBEW Local 99 Crew “A Part of History”

KAYANA SZYMCZAK FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES

KAYANA SZYMCZAK FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES


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America’s first offshore wind farm has been completed off the coast of Rhode Island, and more than 50 International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 99 members helped build it. The Block Island Wind Farm is relatively small but could be a harbinger of things to come:

By global standards, the Block Island Wind Farm is a tiny project, just five turbines capable of powering about 17,000 homes. Yet many people are hoping its completion, with the final blade bolted into place at the end of last week, will mark the start of a new American industry, one that could eventually make a huge contribution to reducing the nation’s climate-changing pollution.

While European nations have installed thousands of these machines, the U.S. lags behind. High costs and confusing rules regarding use of the sea floor have stalled progress but completion of the Block Island Wind Farm is evidence that these obstacles are becoming manageable. From the New York Times:

Using a law passed by a Republican-led Congress in 2005 and signed by President George W. Bush, the Obama administration has been clarifying the ground rules and leasing out large patches of the ocean floor for wind-power development. Nearly two dozen projects are on the drawing board, with some potentially including scores of turbines.

Equally important, state governments in recent months have been making big, new commitments to renewable power, driven by a rising sense of urgency about climate change.

The majority of the new projects will be in the Northeast, where dense cities mean high demand, rising prices and, most importantly, particularly forceful offshore winds.

Wind energy is expected to create new, good-paying jobs. The IBEW Local 99 workers appreciated the value of the project and were excited about their role in a burgeoning industry:

The construction of the five-turbine farm is a chance to be a part of history and also put its members in line for good-paying jobs now and in the future.

“We’re at the dawn of a new source of energy. …Being on the ground of this initial project will hopefully give us a leg up on the next project,” Business Manager Michael Daley said.

[…] “There’s going to be a lot of new construction because of this and we want to be part of it,” said Local 99 member Jeff Audet, co-owner of E.W. Audet & Sons, who heads a crew of IBEW workers assembling the turbines.

The wind farm is scheduled to become operational in October.

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