America's First Offshore Wind Farm Spins to Life Article by Tatiana Schlossberg // Hayley Weisstuch

Summary: On December 12th, 2016, America's first offshore wind farm, which was developed by a company called Deepwater Wind and helped by local government, began spinning its turbines to bring electricity to Block Island (a small island community of the shore of Rhode Island). Previously, Block Island had relied on diesel-fueled generators for power. The wind farm cost around $300 million to build and will meet about 90% of the island's needs. Current estimates state that the wind farm will produce around one percent of the state's electricity as a whole. Despite its small size (it is made up of five wind turbines built by General Electric, and can power around 17,000 homes), it will save around 40,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year. This may be only a fraction of the energy needed, but is definitely a start in the fight towards using renewable energy sources.

Analysis: The opening of this wind farm is significant for a number of reasons. Being the first successful offshore wind development in the US, it opens up a number of opportunities for future wind farms along the coasts. Renewable energy, like that of which the turbines create, is crucial to combating climate change that has occurred as a result of other energy sources that pollute the planet. Environmentalists often encourage and see potential in offshore wind energy, because winds over the ocean usually blow stronger and more steadily than those on land. However, offshore wind farms have faced much opposition in the past because they entail high costs, complicated rules about who can build and what they can build, and complaints from people who do not want turbines obstructing their views of the ocean. It seems that the pros will outweigh the cons, but the Block Island Wind Farm will be the first opportunity for environmentalists to be able to see in real life.

Takeaway: To me, this seems to be a great push in the fight against climate change. A success of the Block Island Wind Farm will likely lead to inspiration to create more farms just like it, and will lead to a transition towards more renewable energy sources. However, new President Trump has expressed skepticism of wind power, saying that "the wind is a very deceiving thing". It seems as if the Trump administration may be looking to get rid of all energy subsidies, which is worrying for all environmentalists. As Americans, we must continue to support projects such as this one to fight for our environment in times that our government may not be looking out for it.

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