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Rhode Island completes port upgrades to support offshore wind

The project extended Pier 2 by 232 feet, created a third berthing space, and dredged the port to accommodate larger ships— enhancements crucial for the buildout of wind projects off Rhode Island's coast.
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A Rhode Island port is ready to support offshore wind activities.

The $83 million expansion and modernization of Pier 2 at Quonset's Port of Davisville is now complete.

The project extended Pier 2 by 232 feet, created a third berthing space and dredged the port to accommodate larger ships— enhancements crucial for the buildout of wind projects off Rhode Island's coast.

The modernization effort, which was funded by Rhode Island voters, was completed $7 million under budget.

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Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee (D)'s Fiscal Year 2023 budget provides an additional $60 million infrastructure investment in the Port of Davisville.

The funds will be used to build the Terminal 5 Pier and complete required dredging, prepare about 24 acres to accommodate additional cargo laydown, and to reconstruct and harden the existing surface of Pier 1.

McKee said the upgrades at Port of Davisville would position Rhode Island to "continue leading the nation in the race for offshore wind.”

Last month, McKee signed legislation that established the most ambitious renewable energy target in the nation.

The legislation accelerates plans for the electric grid to operate with 100% renewable energy, so the goal is achieved in 2033.

It’s the most ambitious timeline in the country — Oregon is the next closest state, with legislation that requires retail electricity providers to reduce emissions by 100% by 2040, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. There are currently 10 states with a 100% renewable portfolio standard or clean energy standard, with most timelines between 2040 and 2050, the NCSL said.

The legislation states that all of the energy provided to Rhode Island by 2033 would come from renewable energy, either directly from renewable energy resources or through offsets in the regional market.

Rough seas near the Block Island Wind Farm offshore Rhode Island. (Image: Dennis Schroeder / NREL)

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo signed an executive order when she was Rhode Island’s governor in 2020 that aimed to make the state the first in the nation to be powered completely by renewable energy by the end of the decade. But state law required annual 1.5 percentage point increases in the amount of electricity required to be generated from renewable sources through 2035.

Rhode Island’s General Assembly also approved legislation this year to require the state’s electric utility to contract for up to 1,000 megawatts of new offshore wind capacity. The first U.S. offshore wind farm opened off Block Island, Rhode Island in 2016.

McKee is among a group of 11 East Coast governors that signed on to a formal partnership with the White House last week to boost the growing offshore wind industry, a key element of President Joe Biden’s plan for climate change.

This article includes reporting from the Associated Press.

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