Block Island Transmission System

 Block Island Transmission System
Block Island Transmission System

The Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council approved its two-year ocean Special Area Management Plan (SAMP) in October 2010. On July 22, 2011, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) approved the incorporation of the ocean SAMP into the state's federally approved coastal management program.   In 2009, the State executed a Joint Development Agreement with Deepwater Wind to build in areas designated by the SAMP

Right-of-Way Grant Application
BOEM received an application from Deepwater Wind requesting a right-of-way (ROW) grant for an eight nautical mile-long, 200-foot wide corridor in federal waters on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) to connect their proposed offshore wind farm, located in Rhode Island state waters approximately 2.5 nautical miles southeast of Block Island, to the Rhode Island mainland. The proposed offshore transmission connection would also transmit power from the existing onshore transmission grid to Block Island. 

Determination of No Competitive Interest
Before reviewing the OCS right-of-way application, BOEM was required to determine whether there are other developers interested in constructing transmission facilities in the same area.  Therefore, BOEM published a Commercial Renewable Energy Transmission on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Offshore Rhode Island, Notice of Proposed Grant Area and Request for Competitive Interest (RFCI) in the Area of the Deepwater Wind Block Island Transmission System Proposal in the Federal Register on May 23, 2012 under Docket ID: BOEM-2012-0009.  For a map showing the proposed Deepwater Wind Block Island Transmission System Right-of-Way Grant Area, click here.

In addition to determining competitive interest for commercial activities in the right-of-way area, BOEM solicited public comment on site conditions and multiple uses within the right-of-way grant area that would be relevant to the proposed project or its impacts, yielding two public comments that will help inform future decisions. 

Following the public comment period, BOEM determined there was no overlapping competitive interest in the proposed right-of-way grant area off Rhode Island and published a "Notice of Determination of No Competitive Interest" in the Federal Register on August 7, 2012 under Docket ID: BOEM-2012-0068.

Environmental Review
The majority of the activities and permanent structures related to the entire wind farm project will be sited in state waters and on state lands, which means that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the lead federal agency for analyzing the potential environmental effects of the project under the National Environmental Policy Act.  Because a portion of the proposed BITS project would be located on the OCS, it requires a ROW grant from BOEM. Therefore, BOEM has participated as a cooperating agency in the NEPA analysis and associated consultations led by the Corps. In September 2014, the Corps completed an Environmental Assessment (EA) for the BIWF and BITS, and issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). Before adopting the Corps EA, BOEM conducted an independent review of the EA and determined that no reasonably foreseeable significant impacts are expected to occur as the result of the preferred alternative, or any of the alternatives contemplated by the EA.

On October 27, 2014, BOEM issued a FONSI for the issuance of a ROW grant, and approval of the General Activities Plan (GAP), with modifications. Click on the link below to access BOEM’s FONSI.

Issuance of ROW Grant and Approval of GAP
On November 17, 2014, BOEM announced the agency offered the ROW grant to Deepwater Wind (DWW) for the Block Island Transmission System. On December 19, 2014, BOEM executed ROW grant OCS-A 0506 for the Deepwater Wind Block Island Transmission System and approved DWW’s General Activities Plan (GAP) for the project with modifications. The effective date of the grant is December 1, 2014.

The executed ROW grant, GAP, and BOEM’s letter of approval of the GAP with modifications are available at the links below.

Assignment
On January 22, 2015, Deepwater Wind submitted an application to assign 100% of ROW grant OCS-A 0506 to The Narragansett Electric Company (TNEC). BOEM approved the assignment on January 29, 2015. Pursuant to BOEM’s regulations, TNEC must comply with all terms and conditions of ROW grant OCS-A 0506 and the conditions of GAP approval. The approved assignment is available here.

Next Steps
As outlined in BOEM’s letter of GAP approval, prior to commencing installation activities described in the GAP, TNEC must submit a Facility Design Report, Fabrication and Installation Report, and a Safety Management System. BOEM will have 60 days to review the FDR and FIR and notify TNEC if there are any objections.