Rhode Island took a step toward reaching its goal of providing 15% of its electricity from wind power, when it awarded Deepwater Wind the contract to build a $1 billion+ offshore wind farm.
Rhode Island Gov. Donald Carcieri touted the project's potential to bring "green collar" jobs to the state, and position it as a leader in an emerging clean energy technology. Indeed, part of the deal includes a provision that the company build a $1.5 billion manufacturing plant in Rhode Island that promises 800 jobs at an average annual salary of $60 million.
While wind power produces only 1% of U.S. electricity today, some estimate it could produce as much as 20% by 2030. And, coupled with conservation -- the largest single untapped source of future energy -- wind can be an important piece of the American energy puzzle in a low-carbon future.
Rhode Island is among the states to have set a renewable energy portfolio mandate that 20% of electricity come from renewable sources by 2020. Federal lawmakers have resisted a similar national mandate, though setting that priority surely contributed to the viability of Rhode Island's offshore wind project. Barack Obama's energy plan includes a mandate that utilities generate 25% of electricity from renewable sources by 2025. John McCain has offshore oil as a centerpiece of his energy plan, and his support for renewable energy sources is largely rhetorical and shorter on specifics.