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Federal regulators to review Deepwater Wind's South Fork offshore wind project

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Federal regulators to review Deepwater Wind's South Fork offshore wind project

Deepwater Wind's Deepwater Offshore Wind Energy Center (South Fork Wind Farm) is one step closer to becoming reality after federal regulators announced they will review the potential environmental effects from the proposed 90-MW offshore wind project off the coast of Rhode Island.

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will prepare an environment impact statement for the South Fork wind project's construction and operations plan, the Interior Department announced Oct. 18. The agency, known as BOEM, was to publish a notice of intent in the Federal Register on Oct. 19, opening the document to a 30-day public comment period through Nov. 19. In addition, BOEM will hold three public meetings in Massachusetts, New York and Rhode during the comment period.

Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski said in an Oct. 18 statement that the South Fork project will be "a centerpiece" of the domestic energy sector's vision to make offshore wind a priority. "Starting the EIS review is a major step forward for the South Fork Wind Farm and an important milestone," he added.

The Rhode Island-based developer expects to start construction on the South Fork project in 2021 and begin commercial operation by 2022. If approved, up to 15 turbines would be built and the Long Island Power Authority will connect the project into the New York ISO grid.

The regulatory development follows a suite of positive news for the domestic offshore wind sector. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced during an American Wind Energy Association conference Oct. 17 that BOEM will issue a call for information and nominations for companies interested in developing offshore wind off of California, which could potentially lead to a lease sale. Zinke also confirmed the date for a lease sale for three new wind energy areas off of Massachusetts, setting the auction for Dec. 13. Executives and government officials have said that the news shows that the domestic offshore wind sector is well on its way to become a more mature industry.

"We are at the dawn of an exciting new era for offshore wind," Ørsted A/S North America President Thomas Brostrøm said Oct. 6 during a speech in Washington, D.C.

Ørsted announced on Oct. 8 that it will acquire Deepwater Wind and its portfolio from D.E. Shaw & Co. LP for $510 million, pending clearance from U.S. competition authorities.