Have we lost our minds? A Rhode Island offshore wind project will cost $10,000 per kilowatt, roughly 10 times the cost of a modern natural gas power plant.
Off of the shore of Block Island on the Rhode Island coast, five wind turbines are operating and supplying power to the island. It took years of state and federal policymaking, environmental impact assessments, and town hall meetings for the 30-megawatt wind farm to come to fruition due to its cost and degradation of vistas. It cost $300 million—$10,000 per kilowatt—about 10 times more than the cost of a new natural gas combined cycle unit. Further, it is 55 percent more costly than what the Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects a first-of-a-kind offshore wind unit to cost—$6,454 per kilowatt.
In terms of generation costs, EIA expects a new offshore wind farm to be 3 times more expensive than an onshore wind farm. [See Editor’s Note below for additional comparisons.]
And now, fishermen are indicating that the wind farm poses serious threats caused by scattering massive metal shafts and snaking underwater cables across prime fishing grounds. Electricity from the turbines is routed via submarine cables to Block Island and to the mainland. Fishermen complain that the area where the cable lines extend to the mainland is completely devoid of fish, which used to be fruitful fishing grounds. Fishermen also complained that their lines have caught on the concrete casings that cover portions of cables that are not buried.