US approves major Rhode Island offshore wind farm

By Valerie Volcovici

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Interior Department on Tuesday approved the construction of a 704 megawatt (MW) wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island, the fourth offshore wind project the agency has greenlighted as the Biden administration targets bringing 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power online by 2030.

The Revolution Wind project off Point Judith, Rhode Island, could power nearly 250,000 homes and create 1,200 local jobs during the construction phase, the Interior Department said.

Owned by wind energy developers Orsted and Eversource, the project includes up to 79 possible locations for the installation of 65 wind turbines and two offshore substations.

"Today's approval of a fourth major offshore wind project is our latest permitting milestone that will help strengthen America's energy security, make our power grid more reliable, lower energy costs, and cut dangerous climate pollution," said Ali Zaidi, the White House's national climate advisor.

The Biden administration has previously approved the Vineyard Wind project off Massachusetts, the South Fork Wind project off Rhode Island and New York, and the Ocean Wind 1 project off New Jersey.

The Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said it plans to complete reviews of at least 16 offshore wind project plans by 2025, which would result in around 27 GW of clean energy.

The Rhode Island project will set up funds to compensate losses by local fisheries and set vessel speed restrictions and construction clearance zones to protect marine mammals, sea turtles, and Atlantic sturgeon, the Interior Department said.

Later this month, the Biden administration will hold its first offshore wind auction in the Gulf of Mexico, which is dominated by the oil and gas industry.

(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Paul Simao)