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RI Coastal Resources Management Council

...to preserve, protect, develop, and restore coastal resources for all Rhode Islanders

Two-day forum focuses on sharing latest offshore wind energy science

Event is Opportunity for Exchange and Dialogue between Researchers, Stakeholders and Community Members

NARRAGANSETT – An event representing the first significant gathering of scientists, stakeholders and community members engaged in following developments related to the Block Island Wind Farm will take place Monday, December 11 and Tuesday, Dec. 12 at the University of Rhode Island (URI) Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO), in Narragansett, RI. The Southern New England Offshore Wind Energy Science Forum will showcase completed and ongoing research that is taking place at the wind farm and within the region to improve the management and development of offshore wind energy. Research topics include the effects of the construction and operation of offshore wind farms on habitat, fish, marine mammals, avian species, and people.

The forum represents the first time that the science and stakeholder communities, both from the public and private sectors, will have come together for a comprehensive information exchange on multiple issues since the wind farm began operating. This event is being sponsored by the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC), U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), URI GSO and the URI Coastal Resources Center (URI CRC), with financial support from windfarm owner Deepwater Wind, and Rhode Island Sea Grant.

“Rhode Island led the country in developing management policies for offshore renewable energy, and it’s important that we take stock of how the facility is interacting with our coastal environment,” said Grover Fugate, executive director of the CRMC. "The major benefit of our work is that the Block Island project is an in-place laboratory for studying potential impacts at a much smaller scale, which provides insight into larger-scale projects, without the same impacts. This was a significant reason why the fishing industry supported the Block Island project."

“Our Block Island Wind Farm has deepened the understanding of the marine environment,” said Aileen Kenney, Deepwater Wind vice president of Permitting and Environmental Affairs.

“With a year under our belt, we’ve already played host to tremendous research efforts that will inform the growth of this new American industry.”

“The Graduate School is a recognized convener of important opportunities for people to engage with the science that is improving the quality of our lives,” said Bruce Corliss, dean of the URI GSO. “We are thrilled to be hosting and contributing to this critical event.”

The wind farm project is regulated in part by state regulations that were created in 2011 through the highly public and participatory Rhode Island Ocean Special Area Management Plan (Ocean SAMP) process, a CRMC leadership effort supported by the URI CRC and Rhode Island Sea Grant. “The Ocean SAMP is a national and international model for science and stakeholder engagement, and we are still seeing the positive impacts of the process,” said Jennifer McCann, director of U.S. Coastal Programs at CRC and extension leader for Rhode Island Sea Grant. “It is vital and important that the ongoing research is regularly shared and discussed amongst the scientists and the public.”

"This is another example of the effectiveness of working closely with state leadership,” said Jim Bennett, chief of the BOEM Office of Renewable Energy Programs. “BOEM looks forward to continuing our work with Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New York to ensure that good science forms the basis for development of offshore wind leases on the Outer Continental Shelf.”

Visit the event site for more information, at http://www.crc.uri.edu/projects_page/southern-new-england-offshore-wind-energy-science-forum/ and register at https://www.regonline.com/registration/checkin.aspx?EventId=2039170&MethodId=0&EventSessionId=&startnewreg=1.

For more information on the forum, contact Sue Kennedy, 401-874-6107 or skennedy@crc.uri.edu. For information on the Ocean SAMP, contact Laura Dwyer, CRMC, 401-783-7886 or ldwyer@crmc.ri.gov.

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