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Another step towards clean energy: America’s first offshore wind farm

America’s first offshore wind farm began operating this week off of the coast of Rhode Island’s Block Island. Deepwater Wind, consisting of five windmills, will generate electricity that will provide power for Block Island. Besides producing clean energy for future use, the project also provides more than 300 jobs for the locals.

While America has many windmills and wind farms, they are all inland. The new offshore farm in Rhode Island is a milestone in the history of renewable energy. Ms. Catherine Buttner, the Sustainability Coordinator, says, “developing renewable energy is really important for America right now, especially for wind energy.”

Cape Wind, a company in Cape Cod, was supposed to build the first offshore wind farm, yet because of local disapproval, the project got postponed. The proposed wind farm consists of 130 windmills in Cape Cod and can support “75% of the electricity used on Cape Cod and the Islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket with zero pollution emissions,” states Cape Wind’s website.

While some people are happy about popularizing wind turbines, others are not due to loud noises, nature disruption, and changes in scenery. Wind turbines have to be placed where there is strong wind; the higher they are, the stronger the winds, and the more energy they can produce. These locations, however, may kill birds because the blades move at a high speed and are “longer than a football field,” states the Department of Energy. Moreover, people who live nearby sometimes dislike the noise a wind turbine produces and the change of the scenery they see daily.

Ms. Buttner believes that “Cape Wind has a harder time building the wind farm because it requires a greater amount of land, and many rich people who live there are against it since it blocks the view.” She adds that the local residents “have the time and money to do the legal battle,” and “one of the people who fought the battle was the Koch brothers, who are big in fossil fuel. It competes with renewable energy as fossil fuel will soon be replaced.”

Despite the fact that many people are against the Cape Wind project, Ms. Buttner and many are not. She believes that “the importance of renewable energy should be spread more widely.” Rachael O’Brien ’18, who goes to Cape Cod often, believes that the production of clean energy is more important than the negatives. Moreover, Ms. Buttner says the problem of birds getting killed because of windmills is in the process of being fixed as people are inventing windmills that have a sensor in order to slow down when birds are approaching.

Renewable energy sources have been one way to power up countless homes and cities by using clean energy, and wind turbines are a widely used renewable energy sources. According to Ms. Buttner, “the east coast of Massachusetts is a suitable place for offshore wind farms due to the winds.” The Department of Energy also states that wind turbines provide “a reliable and renewable energy source” that “helps America move toward energy independence.” It produces energy from nature and lasts forever.

Photograph: Deepwater Wind, the first offshore wind farm in the United States. Photo credit: Kayana Szymczak for The New York Times.