Nation’s first offshore wind farm spurs call for Georgia to follow suit
By David Pendered
The first offshore wind farm in the U.S. began operations Monday off Rhode Island, prompting the advocacy group Environment Georgia to call Tuesday for Georgia to move ahead with offshore wind farms.
“America’s first offshore wind farm should be a wake-up call for Georgia,” Jennette Gayer, director of Environment Georgia, said in an email.
“We’ve got more than a power plant worth of wind blowing off our coast and a shallow continental shelf that could make a wind farm easy to install,” Gayer said. “I hope Gov. Deal and other state leaders heed this wake-up call and start aggressively pursuing offshore wind in Georgia.”
Researchers with Georgia Power’s parent, Southern Co., and Georgia Tech have been investigating the potential of wind power since 2005, according to a report on Georgia Power’s website.
Results weren’t good, according to Georgia Power. Winds off the Georgia coast are strong enough to support a land-based operation, blowing 16 to 17 mph. However, these velocities are not high enough to, “overcome higher construction and operational costs” of an offshore installation.
Consequently, Georgia Power opted to buy 250 megawatts of wind energy from wind farms in southwest Oklahoma, with delivery scheduled to have started this year, according to Georgia Power’s statement.
However, research into the potential of wind power continues along Georgia’s coast. The Georgia Power page reports that Southern Co. and Georgia Power have signed a lease at Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, which will host four small turbines and a meteorological tower for two years.
The Block Island Wind Farm consists of five turbines. It is located 13 miles off the coast of mainland Rhode Island and east of Long Island, New York, according to a statement from Environment Georgia.
The Rhode Island wind farm secured $290 million in financing for the first five turbines in what could be built out as a 200-turbine installation, according to a report by cio.com. A 21-mile submarine cable is to deliver the electricity from the wind farm to the mainland electrical grid.
The turbines are described as “towering” and visible from the Block Island coast, located three miles fro the wind farm, according to a report by The Christian Science Monitor, which went on to say:
- “Higher costs, harsh waters, concern for local ecosystems, and the desire to preserve scenic ocean views have kept the U.S. offshore industry in relative infancy compared with onshore” and with Europe.”
There was a time when solar power was dismissed.
Yet Georgia Power now plans to provide 525 MW of additional renewable generation to the company’s portfolio. This is in addition to the 655 MW of utility scale solar power that was to be procured under power purchase agreements, according to Georgia Power’s reports earlier this year.
Of course, the entire issue of alternative sources of energy is up in the air in the administration of President-elect Donald Trump.
The report by csmonitor.com observes:
- “President-elect Donald Trump has criticized wind farms, calling them ugly and getting into a protracted legal fight with the government of Scotland over offshore wind farms near a Trump-owned golf course, comparing them to a terrorist attack. He has also promised to tear up President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, a driver for offshore wind and other renewable energies.”