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Reinventing Power, Renewing Hope: A Look Inside the Northeast’s Growing Offshore Wind Industry

Samantha Dynowski

June 2024

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As Sierra Club’s Connecticut Chapter Director, I advocate for offshore wind as a critical part of our state’s clean energy future. Offshore wind is clean, renewable, and key to achieving our climate goals and protecting local Connecticut communities from the energy price shocks and negative health impacts caused by methane gas. So, when I received an invitation to tour the nation’s first operational wind farm, I accepted. I wanted to see it for myself, offshore wind in action. 

 

On a Tuesday morning in May, I got up early and drove my EV for an hour from West Hartford to New London. I parked and took a motion sickness pill before getting out of the car, just in case. Next, I embarked onto a ferry to see the South Fork Wind Farm generating 100% clean and renewable electricity for New York. Once fully operational, South Fork will generate enough electricity to power a whopping 70,000 homes.

 

As the ferry pulled away from the pier, I quickly could see the first signs of the growing offshore wind industry. New turbine towers for another wind project, Revolution Wind, a 704 MW wind farm set to serve Connecticut and Rhode Island, were staged on the pier. Right now, three New England states, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts are considering bids that would deliver more than 5,500 MW of offshore wind for our region. So far, 2024 has been the biggest year yet for offshore wind in New England. With Revolution Wind and other wind farms scheduled to be operational next year, 2025 promises to be even bigger.

 

The ferry traveled down the Thames River and out into the Long Island Sound towards the Atlantic. After about 90 minutes, the Block Island wind farm was in sight. Then, South Fork Wind. At first glance, I saw what I expected to see: twelve wind turbines standing tall in the water, slowly turning in the constantly blowing wind. Over the loudspeaker, I heard what I expected to hear: an explanation of the wind farm’s capabilities and function. 

 

What I felt was unexpected. I was (and still am) flooded with hope. Making meaningful and positive change for Connecticut’s environment and our communities isn’t easy. As climate activists, we have a vision of how to improve our energy system. In large numbers, we advocate for solar, wind and heat pumps to replace polluting fossil fuel infrastructure. 

 

However, so often, we are disappointed by the lack of urgency and action taken by state leaders to address climate change. Here in Connecticut, we are feeling the pain of a legislature that failed to pass meaningful climate legislation two years in a row, and through inaction on clean cars and trucks, moved our state backward. 

 

Still, in the face of these challenges and setbacks, the sight of this wind farm in action brought joy and hope. The towering turbines served as a reminder of the power our movement has to turn the tides and make possible the sustainable future we all need to weather the climate crisis. Together, we have been reimaging power generation that is 100% clean and renewable, and it is not just a vision. It is a reality.

Tell Governor Lamont that you support offshore wind for a clean energy future!


Samantha Dynowski is State Director of Sierra Club Connecticut.

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