Atlantic Pioneer: Serving the First U.S. Offshore Wind Project

Across the Atlantic, offshore wind has been advancing for more than 20 years... it's time for the US to catch up! Photo by London Array Limited
Across the Atlantic, offshore wind has been advancing for more than 20 years… it’s time for the US to catch up! Photo by London Array Limited

This will be a tough Earth Day to top. Historic clean energy progress, celebrated on a sunny dock in the Ocean State marks a preview of what’s to come along the coast. It’s an inspiring reminder that offshore wind power is worth fighting for — and that it’s working.

Deepwater Wind’s “Journey to First” – the several year-long endeavor of building the nation’s first offshore wind power project – crossed yet another milestone today. As part of the Providence-based developer’s commitment to building as much of its project as possible in Rhode Island, they commissioned a family-owned Rhode Island company to build the project’s crew transfer vessel, the Atlantic Pioneer. Today, Rhode Islanders gathered to celebrate the boat’s christening and all that it represents.

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Earth Day. We are pioneers. As the Governor, I am bursting with pride.

– RI Governor Gina Raimondo

A True Atlantic Pioneer

For 25 years, European leaders have embraced and advanced the capabilities of offshore wind power technology. But no one has been able to crack the code on this side of the Atlantic. The U.S. Atlantic Coast is home to a world-class offshore wind resource, but it has lacked the right combination of multi-level political will to get off the ground – until now. Following years of stakeholder engagement and trailblazing ocean planning work, the Block Island Wind Farm will be up and running by the end of this year.

As the first of its kind on the map, this project has sparked many firsts. It’s been a demonstration of what will be required to reach the next clean energy frontier and, with visionary leaders, just how within reach it is. The Atlantic Pioneer will be operated by Rhode Island Fast Ferry and will continue employing Rhode Islanders for decades to come. As Senator Whitehouse proclaimed on the dock in Quonset, RI today, with the new vessel behind him: “This is the Jobs Boat. You wouldn’t have built this boat if we didn’t have steel in the water.”

NWF works to protect wildlife like the North Atlantic right whale every step of the way. Photo by NOAA

The Block Island story is the start of something new. We at National Wildlife Federation are working to ensure it’s also the start of something big. Massachusetts is poised to launch the offshore wind industry to the next level as the legislature considers an energy bill that could unleash massive development far offshore. New York and New Jersey are close behind with ripe opportunities to get in the game.

Large-scale clean energy solutions are critical to protecting coastal communities, wildlife, and wild places from the dangers of climate change. Offshore wind power remains America’s largest untapped clean energy opportunity. Now is our moment to change that – and to welcome the thousands of high-quality local jobs it will deliver.

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