Going Above and Beyond: Deepwater Wind Adjusts Offshore Wind Construction Schedule to Protect Right Whales

Maggie Williams

After extensive discussions with CLF, Deepwater Wind has agreed to voluntarily adjust its planned construction period to minimize potential impacts to migrating North Atlantic Right Whales -- like this breaching beauty here.

Deepwater Wind is taking exciting new steps to build on last month’s historic agreement to protect critically endangered right whales while developing offshore wind projects. The offshore wind developer, expected to begin construction on the proposed Block Island Wind Farm in 2014 or 2015, has announced an agreement to voluntarily adjust its planned construction period to minimize potential impacts to migrating North Atlantic right whales. This announcement follows extensive discussions with CLF, and shows a willingness to go above and beyond to protect North Atlantic right whales in the pursuit of renewable energy.

In order to fasten the five proposed turbine steel foundations into the steel floor, the developer must undergo pile driving, a process of hammering steel pipes up to 250 ft into the ocean floor. This stage of production could potentially harm migrating right whales, which have been documented feeding in Rhode Island Sound throughout the month of April. Deepwater Wind has adjusted its construction schedule accordingly, deciding that no pile driving will occur before May 1 of the project’s construction year.

Deepwater Wind’s decision to alter its construction schedule for the Block Island Wind project follows another agreement to adopt protections for endangered right whales in federal waters. A first-of-its kind coalition of offshore wind developers and environmental organizations agreed to adopt voluntary measures to protect right whales while expediting responsible offshore wind development. This historic agreement sets out measures that developers will voluntarily implement over the next four years in the Mid-Atlantic Wind Energy Areas stretching from New Jersey to Virginia. In it, key ocean stakeholders have shown great leadership in setting a model for future coalitions, and they have demonstrated a commitment to developing clean energy projects while protecting critically endangered species.

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