SOUTH KINGSTOWN – Sen. Susan Sosnowski (D – Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham) was pleased to hear about the changes made to two offshore wind farm proposal last week, calling the revisions “positive development.”
The developers of this project, Mayflower Wind and Vineyard Winds, are hoping to place an 84-turbine array off Martha’s Vineyard and another 15 turbines in the Rhode Island Sound. According to Sosnowski, the newly announced changes will better address some of the needs of commercial fishermen and others who work on the water, as well as for those who use it recreationally, however; she still has some remaining concerns.
So far, the developers have agreed to change the spacing of the turbines and orientation of the proposal, aligning the turbines East to West in order to accommodate the fishing practices of some commercial fishermen who fish in the area.
“It’s a positive development that the proposal now reflects some of the fishermen’s needs for alignment, as well as the industry’s request for one-nautical-mile spacing that was not in the original plans,” Sosnowski said. “While there are still some significant concerns with these proposals, I consider it progress that these adjustments have been made to help protect our fishing industry.”
Even with the changes, though, Sosnowski believes the proposals still present some obstacles to local users. She is urging regulators to vigilantly protect the waters’ existing uses. Among her remaining concerns, the senator includes the removal of designated transit lanes through the turbines and the overall size of the projects.
“While I am pleased that these changes have been made in recognition of our valuable fishing industry’s needs, I will continue to advocate for the fishing industry and remain concerned that this proposal still poses considerable risks to the safety and livelihood of our hardworking fishing industry’s workers,” she said.
Currently, both wind farm proposals are on hold while the Federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management reviews the concerns of the fishing industry.
The removal of the designated transit lanes is a major concern for Sosnowski, according to Meredyth Whitty, director of the state’s Legislative Press and Public Information Bureau. Keeping the water accessible to local fishermen and recreational users is a huge concern, especially since earlier proposals had included these designated transit lanes, Whitty added.
Sosnowski would also like both projects to be dialed back in scope – though she is most concerned with the wind farm proposals in the Rhode Island Sound. Legislators in both states have pushed to see the wind turbines spaced out one nautical mile apart, meaning the wind farms will take up a sizable amount of space.
In addition to serving the towns of South Kingstown and New Shoreham, Sosnowski also serves on the Clean Water Finance Agency, the Coastal Resources Management Council and the South Kingstown Democratic Town Committee. Since 1995, before she was elected into the Rhode Island General Assembly in November of 1996, Sosnowski also serves on the Agricultural Advisory Committee to the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM).
During her time in office, Rhode Island became the first state in America to have an offshore wind farm. The five-turbine, 30-megawatt wind farm has been meeting the majority of the island’s energy needs since 2016 – a project that was many years in the making.
Since the turbines began spinning, there have been numerous proposals for offshore wind farms across the country.