PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island coastal regulators have given a proposed wind farm off the state's coast critical approval over the objections of the fishing industry and some environmentalists.
The vote Wednesday by the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council in favor of the South Fork Wind Farm moves the project one step closer to reality.
Fishermen objected, arguing that a compensation package agreed to with developers Orsted and Eversource will not adequately compensate them for the loss of fishing grounds, The Providence Journal reported.
The environmental group Save The Bay said the 130-megawatt wind farm is being placed in the wrong spot in Rhode Island Sound, an area home to a rich diversity of fish.
The council did agree to a reduction in the number of the project’s turbines from 15 to 12 that would be made possible by the developers’ use of more powerful turbines.
The council recommended that instead of creating a fishing industry compensation fund that could gradually reach a value of $12 million over 30 years, the developers make a one-time upfront payment of $5.2 million.
Council Executive Director Jeff Willis said the lower figure is the net present value of the higher number.
The Fishermen’s Advisory Board said the industry faces a total loss during the eight-month construction period and a 50% to 80% loss during the wind farm’s operation.
Business groups and construction unions back the project.
“Offshore wind is our future,” said Michael Sabitoni, president of the Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council. “We’ve embraced the renewable concept to create the new industry, the future.”