Block Island shuts down generators, draws power from wind farm

Block Island is getting its power from the off-shore wind farm and an undersea cable. (Block Island Power Co./Facebook)

Thick fog covered most of Block Island Monday morning, hiding the five wind Turbines located just a few miles off-shore.

The smallest town in smallest state is now 100-percent powered by the off-shore wind turbines. An undersea cable is the first of its kind in the country.

"It's an engineering an environmental marvel," Nancy Dodge, Block Island Power Company Board Chairperson, said at a news conference on Block Island.

The Block Island Power Co. said the utility's diesel generators were shut down early Monday morning.

Power was switched over to Deepwater Wind's Block Island wind farm and National Grid's Sea2Shore submarine cable, though the wind turbines were running before the switch.

Long-time supporters of the "Sea to Shore" project said the early-morning shut-down of the diesel powered generators brings a new age of sustainability on Block Island.

"The significance of that moment early this morning when violent detonations of diesel fuel were replaced by graceful revolutions of sleep turbine blades, as a symbol of Block Island's main source of alternate energy," said Ken Lacoste, first warden of the Town of New Shorem.

Energy officials estimate an average $30 monthly savings to Island household power bills.

Block Island will only use one-sixth the power generated from the wind farm. The rest of the power is cabled back to the mainland for Rhode Island residents, which brings about 1 percent more energy to the mainland.

At the old dieseled power generator site, which has been running the island since 1925, is now quiet with the generators turned off. Before, about a million gallons of diesel, every year, was delivered to power Block Island.

"From our perspective, this is an incredible special moment for us," said Jeffrey Grybowski, Deepwater Wind CEO.

The wind farm cost about $300 million to build, while the cables connecting the energy distribution cost another $125 million.

The fees for the sustainable energy were made possible also by both Rhode Island taxpayers on the mainland and on Block Island.

Long-time supporters still believe the one way Rhode Island will lead other states in energy sustainability.

"It’s only fitting that Block Island has made history as the first town in the United States to be powered by offshore wind," Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski said in the news release. "It’s our honor to celebrate this historic milestone with Block Islanders. We’re confident that the example Block Island has set will inspire communities up and down the Eastern Seaboard to chart their own path toward a renewable future."

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