Federal government seeking bids for offshore wind farms

PROVIDENCE, RI – Deepwater Wind says it will submit a bid for an offshore wind farm during an application period announced Wednesday. U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar called for applications to lease some of the 285 square miles of federal waters between Block Island and Martha's Vineyard considered prime for developing wind energy. Salazar says this is a major milestone.

"And I do believe that Rhode Island is poised to being at the point of a spear in developing offshore wind for America and making it a reality," says Salazar.

Deepwater Wind wants to build a 1,000-megawatt offshore wind farm between Massachusetts and Rhode Island and is looking at production facilities in both states.

Elected officials say offshore wind farms will create hundreds of jobs. And U.S. Senator Jack Reed says the Quonset Point industrial park will lure those jobs to Rhode Island. "And the advantage that we have here at Quonset Point is these things have to be moved as quickly as possible onto a barge to get to sea," says Reed." So what we have to offer is a sight that is literally right next to the barge."

During the announcement, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse stressed Rhode Island's high unemployment rate as a reason why the state needs to be an industry leader.

"There is no single project that has a better hope for significant change in employment than having offshore wind turbines assembled right here in Quonset," says Whitehouse.

Developers will have 45 days to submit their bids, and Salazar says the government's also making an environmental assessment. The federal government is expected to sign the first lease for a wind farm off Rhode Island sometime next year.

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