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EGEB: The US’s first offshore wind farm is currently offline; here’s why

In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):

  • Ørsted says Block Island is offline for summer maintenance, and rumors are flying.
  • Tampa just committed to 100% clean energy by 2035, but there’s a hitch.
  • UnderstandSolar is a free service that links you to top-rated solar installers in your region for personalized solar estimates. Tesla now offers price matching, so it’s important to shop for the best quotes. Click here to learn more and get your quotes. — *ad.

Block Island offshore wind farm

The Block Island offshore wind farm, the US’s first offshore wind farm that launched in 2016, is temporarily shut down. EcoRI gives the wind farm’s background:

The Block Island Wind Farm’s five 840-foot-tall wind turbines comprise the first operational offshore wind facility in the United States. The turbines were manufactured by General Electric subsidiary GE Renewable Energy, while the wind facility was still under the ownership of Deepwater Wind. In 2018, Deepwater Wind was acquired by Danish multinational utility company Ørsted, putting the Block Island Wind Farm in the hands of the world’s largest offshore wind developer.

There is no power interruption, as power for Block Island, south of Rhode Island, is currently being sourced from the mainland’s grid.

An Ørsted spokesperson told WPRI 12 News the reason yesterday:

We put four turbines on pause as a precautionary measure and carried out a full risk assessment, which showed the turbines are structurally sound. We expect to complete those repairs and all maintenance in the next few weeks as scheduled.

But a writer named David Collins had an article published on August 7 about the shutdown in New London, Connecticut, journal the Day. Collins thinks that Ørsted is being evasive, and feels there is a more serious reason.

Collins writes:

Getting Ørsted to answer media questions is a real challenge. All the phone numbers on its page for media calls are European, in Denmark.

You would think the company could at least have easily available US telephone numbers for its media staff…

…My sense is that there is more trouble with the turbines run from Denmark than anyone wants us to know. But we may learn more about how long the shutdown will really last as the summer rolls on.

The offshore wind farm has indeed run into problems in the past; for example, in 2019, an undersea electric cable became exposed at Crescent Beach, which unnerved residents and tourists, although the National Grid said that it posed no risk to boaters and swimmers.

But I’m a bit skeptical about Collins’s “something is amiss” storyline because I easily found Ørsted’s US media contact months ago and have exchanged emails with them. I put in a call to him this morning.

Update, 11:15 a.m. ET: Ørsted’s head of communications emailed me back and confirmed the WPRI statement, and added:

Part of the work being conducted is the repair of stress lines identified by GE in the turbines.

Tampa: 100% clean energy by 2035

As Electrek wrote yesterday, Florida utility Tampa Electric Co. announced it will retire three coal units and double its solar output within two years, but gave no indication of what its longer-term plan was for natural gas, upon which the vast majority of its power is run.

That’s just one big hurdle for Tampa’s City Council, which voted on August 5 in a non-binding resolution to move the city’s stationary municipal operations to clean energy by 2035. Environmental groups pushed for a 2030 deadline, but Tampa Mayor Jane Castor (D) resisted that time frame.

The resolution also urges the state and federal governments to enact and enforce clean policies.

Council members voted 6-1 in favor of the resolution, and the dissenting voter, Charlie Miranda, said:

Let’s not just say, ‘I want it done.’ Show the world how you’re going to do it.

That’s a fair point from Miranda, but the Tampa Bay Times notes:

Council member John Dingfelder pushed back [on Miranda], calling the measure “an important step.”

“It conveys a very important message to the community, and to the city itself,” he said.

Also, WJCT writes:

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor’s office has already committed to moving the city to a 100%, clean, renewable energy future through her Resilient Tampa campaign.

Some parts of Castor’s plan are echoed in Citro’s resolution, like transitioning to a safe pedestrian city, transitioning to hybrid and electric vehicle fleets, and assessing the efficiency of Tampa’s stationary buildings.

There’s also another rather large obstacle when it comes to clean energy.

In June, Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) signed a law that prevents local governments from deciding which energy path they want to take. In other words, Florida towns and cities are now unable to switch to 100% clean energy because they can’t ban fossil fuels.

Read more: Florida’s governor just locked ‘Florida into a dirty fossil fuel future’

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.