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Monday
Aug222016

America's First Offshore Wind Farm May Power Up a New Industry

Two of the project’s wind turbines, about three miles away, can be seen from shore on Block Island, but island residents have been largely supportive. Credit Kayana Szymczak for The New York Times As reported by Justin Gillis in the New York Times, the Block Island wind power development off of the Rhode Island coastline may be but a small beginning to what could grow into a major renewable energy industry in the U.S., as it has in Europe.

Beyond Nuclear raised offshore wind as an alternative to 20 more years of nuclear power at Seabrook, NH license extension proceeding. The Gulf of Maine has some 5,000 Megawatts-electric of offshore wind power potential, several times more than the Seabrook atomic reactor generates. But the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) was not interested to hear about it. Nor did the courts require NRC to examine such alternatives when Beyond Nuclear raised a legal appeal under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Beyond Nuclear also raised offshore, and on shore, wind power as an alternative to 20 more years at Davis-Besse in Ohio (Lake Erie has significant offshore wind power potential). But again, NRC refused to examine it, despite its NEPA obligations to do so.

In both proceedings, the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board panel voted to grant an evidentiary hearing on the wind power alternative to 20-year atomic reactor license extensions. But the nuclear utilities appealed those rulings to the NRC Commission itself, which then overturned the ASLB rulings, in the companies' favor. An appeal by Beyond Nuclear et al., at the Boston U.S. Court of Appeals, was rejected.