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Block Island Wind Farm: A Clean Energy Project by Deepwater Wind

Boston, MA // November 18, 2016: The below commentary was authored by Jack Robinson, Trillium’s Vice Chair and Portfolio Manager. In November, Jack received an invitation to visit Block Island Wind Farm by Deepwater Wind, a developer of offshore wind energy projects. As America’s first offshore wind farm, the project will supply clean power for the majority of Block Island, Rhode Island.
We believe that climate change is the defining investment issue of our time. In the March 2016 edition of Extracting Fossil Fuels from Your Portfolio Guide, a paper authored by 350.org, Green Century Capital Management, and Trillium, we reference power generation as one of the seven pillars for reinvestment, including alternative energy sources (such as wind power).

Pictured: Jack Robinson with Carol Grant, Commissioner, Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources

If you are one of the 17,000 families who live on Block Island or the south coast of Rhode Island, this Thanksgiving will be the first time in history that you will be cooking your turkey with electricity generated by the very first offshore wind farm in the United States.
Located a few miles southeast of the island and visible from the mainland, we had the opportunity to join a late October boat tour of the Block Island Wind Farm with representatives from the developer, manufacturer, local utility, wind industry, press, and the State of Rhode Island. Pictured with me on the tour is my host, Carol Grant, the Energy Commissioner of Rhode Island who is committed to accelerating the transition to a low carbon economy in Rhode Island.
The five, 6-megawatt GE wind towers and turbines are interconnected by submarine cables and then to a new substation on the island that in turn is also connected to the mainland by underwater cables. Each tower is anchored in deep-set steel pilings in 90 feet of sea water, standing 600 feet tall (or the length of two football fields stacked vertically) when one of the three 29 tons blades is at the zenith of its spin or 90 degrees.  The wind turbines produce power at wind speeds between 7 and 57 mph above which the blades are feathered and then able to withstand hurricane winds.
While the $300 million wind farm took less than two years to actually build and install, the project itself has been in the works for almost a decade along with several others along the East Coast that have yet to start construction. Overcoming local resistance to offshore wind has been challenging.  Thanks to the persistence and careful planning of the developer, Deepwater Wind, along with the progressive thinking of RI leaders, we believe the Block Island Wind Farm will be the first of many in the U.S. and located on both coasts, Hawaii, and in the Great Lakes.
A success by any measure, the Block Island Wind Farm represents the birth of a new American industry that will generate jobs, reduce pollution, and enhance energy quality, quantity, and security with improving economics for consumers.
For more information, please contact: Jack Robinson, Portfolio Manager, jrobinson@trilliuminvest.com