Je L/B Jill docked in Bridgeport in early November, offering residents and passers-by the opportunity to board a unique vessel, which will play an important role in the construction of the South Fork Wind Farm off Long Island.
The L/B stands for “lift boat”, a class of vessel capable of deploying “legs” which will lift the body of the boat out of the water and provide crews with both accommodation and a stable working platform to from which they can work during the construction of the first major offshore wind project in the tri-state area. The hull will be suspended 15 to 20 feet in the air above the surface of the water, avoiding waves and instability. Measured from the seabed to the top of its leg slot, the Jill will stand 335 feet tall – a height taller than the Statue of Liberty.
When completed, the South Fork wind farm will serve as a central component in a project providing the Eversource power grid with an additional 130 megawatts of energy, enough to power 70,000 homes. It will be associated with several energy storage facilities and transmission upgrades on Long Island.
This is the first of several joint ventures between Eversource Energy and Ørsted, formerly known as Danish Oil and Natural Gas but now known for its wind energy projects.
When in place, the Jill will work with crews on shore near Wainscott Beach to drill a path for the cable that will transmit power from the turbines to the grid. The “dish-dinner” sized cable will be 80 feet underground, shielding it from most weather events and keeping disturbances on land and at sea to a minimum.
“This project was chosen following a competitive solicitation,” said Jennifer Garvey, head of New York market strategy at Ørsted. “It has proven to be the most cost-effective way to meet the Long Island Power Authority’s power supply needs.”
Although most of the electricity is used locally, it could also help meet overall demand and will help meet energy needs across the grid.
“Once the electricity hits the grid, it flows to where it’s needed,” Garvey said. “You get a glimpse of the workhorses that will be part of this story.”
According to Garvey, the techniques employed to set up the South Fork project will likely see increased use all along the Atlantic coast as more wind farms are established. The Jill and her sister ships may well become a common site in the future.
“It’s really a glimpse of the future for our other two projects, both Revolution and Sunrise, when we’re going to use similar technology,” said Ray Collins, government affairs and community relations manager for wind. offshore at Eversource Energy.
Collins noted that the Jill or similar vessels will also be in the area for the Revolution Wind Farm and the larger Sunrise Wind Farm. Revolution will provide power to Connecticut and Rhode Island while Sunrise will help New York meet its clean energy goals.
The Jill is expected to spend around two weeks at Barnum Pier in downtown Bridgeport embarking crew and equipment. After traveling more than 100 miles south to the future site of the seven wind turbines that will make up the wind farm, the Jill will be serviced by the Brave, a tender vessel that will make two weekly trips to Bridgeport.