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Construction underway on East Providence offshore wind terminal

South Quay Marine Terminal to facilitate growth of Ocean State’s wind industry

Construction is currently underway for the South Quay Marine Terminal, a new hub for the shipping and assembly of wind turbines in East Providence, just south of India Point Park. The terminal will facilitate the development of wind turbine technology and the installation of wind farms across the Ocean State and coastal New England.

Gov. Dan McKee and East Providence Mayor Robert DaSilva launched construction at a Sept. 12 ceremony, according to a press release from the governor’s office. “This critical investment continues to ensure that our state remains at the center of this key industry,” McKee said in the statement.

Once completed, the terminal will carry out several important functions, said Seth Grady, chief operating officer of R.I. Waterfront Enterprises, which owns the land designated for construction. The terminal will receive shipments of materials for wind turbines, partially assemble components including towers and blades, then load them onto specialized vessels for installation at sea.

The project is expected to be operational in time for the start of construction on several offshore wind farms that are going through the process of receiving permits, Grady said. “Ultimately, our target is to end up with a fully operational port in 2025,” he said. “That’s the year when there are multiple offshore wind developers that have the need for it and would be willing to sign a lease.”

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The terminal will help address high demand for port facilities as offshore wind farms are built all along the East Coast in coming years, DaSilva told The Herald.

There is currently “a lack of port capacity to handle the amount of work that’s going to be happening at these federally permitted offshore wind installations,” he said. “But now we have the unique opportunity to build another port in Rhode Island that’s going to serve us and keep us as leaders in the offshore wind industry.”

The project is partially funded by money from the State of Rhode Island allocated by the legislature and the McKee administration. A “$12 million expenditure of (federal COVID-19 relief funds) was in the Governor’s initial (fiscal year 2023) budget proposal,” wrote state Sen. Valarie Lawson (D-14) of East Providence in an email to The Herald. According to a General Assembly budget document, the state will allot a total of $35 million in federal funds for the project through fiscal year 2026. 

“I was excited to support this proposal as it will lead to significant investment in the green and blue economies as well as the redevelopment of our working waterfront,” Lawson wrote. Although the project is not yet completely funded, “significant additional funding sources are anticipated,” she added. The General Assembly document indicates that officials expect to receive an additional $68 million for the project from various sources.

The project is expected to boost the development of the Ocean State’s rapidly growing offshore wind industry, helping Rhode Island meet its climate action goals and creating renewable energy jobs in the process.

“Projects such as the South Quay will contribute to Rhode Island meeting the goals of the Act on Climate” and the 100% renewable energy standard, Lawson wrote. Act on Climate is a piece of landmark legislation signed into law last year that outlines the state’s approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050, The Herald previously reported. The renewable energy standard passed this summer requires 100% of Rhode Island’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2033, The Herald previously reported.

“Rhode Island has been and continues to be a leader in renewable energy,” Lawson wrote. “Because of our geography, we are also well positioned to be a renewable energy manufacturing hub for turbines not just for Rhode Island, but all along the East Coast.”

“South Quay will serve an integral role in the process by providing the wind industry with a modern port facility capable of handling the movement of turbine components from mainland to the project sites throughout New England,” Lawson added.

DaSilva said the port will be an economic boon to his city and the state. “This will create not only short-term construction jobs, but long-term jobs associated with the offshore wind industry,” including installation and maintenance, he said.

“There’s a very compelling economic case” for building such a terminal in Rhode Island, according to Grady. “Rhode Island … is so well-positioned as the Ocean State, and it’s close to many of the offshore wind areas,” he said. “There’s so much that can be done.”

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