Off the shores of New England, in a region steeped in old maritime tradition, comes a modern wave of big ships, energy industries, and a changing climate, now testing the limits of an already crowded sea. But in a pioneering trial of far-sighted planning—pushed by blueprints for offshore wind energy—established residents and new are coming together to keep their ocean and livelihoods alive.
Ocean Frontiers II: A New England Story for Sustaining the Sea chronicles the painstaking path of engaging Rhode Island stakeholders – commercial fishermen, environmentalists, members of the Narragansett tribe, academics, and government officials – to build an unprecedented collaboration to properly site the Deepwater Wind project off the coast of Rhode Island.
Employing science and collaboration, the process of consensus building and cooperation among a wide range of stakeholders yielded the first off-shore wind turbine farm in the United States. Sited three miles southeast of Block Island, the renewable energy zone was mapped for the Block Island Demonstration Wind Farm, a 5-turbine project to power 17, 000 homes, and scheduled to come on line in 2016.
Scientific data was collected from studies of marine life habits and habitats, undersea terrain mapping, and various inventories of resources such as submerged cables, pipelines, unexploded ordinances, disposal sites, aquaculture areas, turtle and whale migratory paths, as well as recreational fishing areas and other coastal resources. Rhode Island’s combination of science and collaboration served as a model for the Northeast Ocean Data Portal, which is used to shape the permissions and constraints on developers filing proposals in New England – and the country.
Rhode Island’s experiences serve as an important milestone for all who care about and make their livelihood on the ocean.
Ocean Frontiers II: A New England Story for Sustaining the Sea airs on Sunday, April 17 at 6 p.m., as part of Rhode Island Stories, the ongoing Rhode Island PBS series that features independent documentaries with a strong Rhode Island connection.
Visit the Ocean Frontiers II site. (also includes full 45-minute documentary)
Visit Deepwater Wind
See the 28-minute documentary here: