U.S. waters off the Atlantic coast are shaping up as a bonanza for offshore wind power, with the federal government having approved 15 tracks of water for development and investment flowing in from overseas. But some say projects may be facing a crosswind as the U.S. government takes a closer look at their impact.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless talks with Jeff Grybowski, until recently the co-CEO of Ørsted U.S. Offshore Wind and previously the CEO of Deepwater Wind, the Rhode Island-based company that completed the first offshore wind farm in the U.S., a five-turbine project off Block Island in 2016. Jeff joined Ørsted when the Danish company, a global leader in offshore wind energy, bought Deepwater Wind last year.
Jeff shepherded the Block Island project to completion, drawing on his experience not only in business and law but also as a former state policymaker in Rhode Island. Alex Kuffner, a reporter for the Providence Journal, wrote that Jeff, “by proving that an offshore wind farm could be built in the United States, is arguably more responsible than anyone for ushering in the current rush of development.”
Likewise, Thomas Brostrom, the CEO of Ørsted U.S. Offshore Wind, told the Journal that Jeff is “one of the pioneers of the offshore wind industry in the U.S.”
Bill and Jeff last met two years ago, when the Block Island turbines had been spinning energy for less than a year. Here, they get together again at Jeff's North Kingston, R.I., home to catch up on this emerging industry, the proliferation of projects and the outlook its expansion in the U.S.
They also discuss a controversial decision by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to take more time to examine the impact of a project called Vineyard Wind, an 84-turbine project planned by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Avangrid Renewables that would be the first large-scale wind farm in the U.S. That government inquiry has implications not only for Vineyard Wind but also projects planned by Ørsted and other developers off the Atlantic coast.
They touch, too, on the significance of state policies for offshore wind energy as well as federal policies, like a soon-to-expire investment tax credit.