URI hosting two-day science forum

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 6:00pm

“This is going to be part of our future.”

That’s what Jen McCann said regarding offshore wind energy during an interview with The Block Island Times. McCann, who is Director of Coastal Programs at the University of Rhode Island’s Coastal Resources Center, is hosting the inaugural Southern New England Offshore Wind Energy Science Forum at URI’s Bay Campus on Monday, Dec. 11 and Tuesday, Dec. 12.

McCann said that the two-day event is designed to bring various scientists, researchers and members of the public together to discuss the impact of the Block Island Wind Farm, and other proposed offshore wind farm installations, on the marine environment. “I hope every Block Islander will come to the forum, because this affects them, as well as anyone else who lives along the coastline and will be seeing turbines,” she said.

“It’s going to be quite an interactive event,” said McCann. “We’re creating an agenda for the event where people can ask questions respectfully within a constructive forum.” She said there will also be a “wrap-up session” aimed at answering the question: “Where do we go from here?” McCann noted: “There will be 100 offshore wind turbines in federal waters within 10 years.”

McCann and her team at the CRC have been conducting Wind Farm-related research for the past few years. She is also part of the team that created the state of Rhode Island’s Ocean Special Area Management Plan, the federally recognized coastal management and regulatory tool that was instrumental in siting the Block Island Wind Farm in 90 feet of water three miles off the southeast coast of Block Island.

“This will be a real opportunity for stakeholders to learn what’s been going on with the research,” said McCann. “Block Island has been inundated by researchers to see what the effects are, and people have probably not heard the results. So this is a chance to hear what the results are.”

McCann said her team will be providing a two-page summary online after the event, and will be setting a date to visit Block Island to showcase the forum’s results. The offshore wind energy science forum is being sponsored by the Coastal Resources Management Council, and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and funded by Deepwater Wind, the developer that built the Block Island Wind Farm, and Rhode Island Sea Grant, a federal, state, and university partnership based at URI.

“This is the role of the university,” said McCann. “This is how we add value. It’s a public service for URI — answering tough questions about the marine environment. We are an objective, trusted entity and this is our responsibility.” 

The event will feature a cash bar and hors d'oeuvres. For more information, and to register for the two-day forum, go to: http://bit.ly/2lHXz9F