The prospect of an offshore wind cable running from a wind farm in federal waters up the Sakonnet and connecting to the grid through the town of Portsmouth has raised community questions and concerns over the impacts from cable installation on fish and the surrounding habitat. With numerous offshore wind developments proposed in the federal waters off Rhode Island and other Northeast states, this concern is likely to be shared by other coastal communities.
A series of public meetings, “Offshore Wind and the Sakonnet River: A Dialogue for Coastal Communities,” focused on the science about the impacts from laying and operating a cable from an offshore wind farm was was organized by Rhode Island Sea Grant, URI Coastal Resources Center, and the URI Graduate School of Oceanography at the request from the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association and the town of Portsmouth.
Scientists discussed how fish populations are monitored in Narragansett Bay, how cables are laid, and how burying a cable at a depth of 6 feet can greatly reduce the amount of electromagnetic frequency detectable at the surface of the seabed. The role of community engagement in the decision-making and how to follow the permitting process through the various associated government entities was discussed. This included how to provide input to the Rhode Island Energy Facility Siting Board, the Coastal Resources Management Council, and the town. A representative from Save The Bay also discussed tips for effective advocacy.
While the wind farms in various stages of development are all in federal waters, the cables from those farms must come into state waters to connect to the electric grid. Because of this, several state and local entities are involved in permitting.
For links to slides and meeting handouts, visit the Portsmouth Community Event series.
For more information about offshore wind projects around the Rhode Island area, see http://www.crmc.ri.gov/windenergy.html.
For information on the RI Energy Facility Siting Board and applications on the board’s docket, see https://ripuc.ri.gov/general-information/efsb.
For information on the Town of Portsmouth‘s planning and zoning, see https://www.portsmouthri.gov/.
For more information about the event series, please contact Abbey Greene, URI Coastal Resources Center and Rhode Island Sea Grant coastal program extension specialist.