URI Marine Affairs grad plays key role in Rhode Island wind farm development

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862 |

KINGSTON, R.I. — Jan. 23, 2020 — In 2016, the first offshore wind farm in the United States was erected off the coast of Block Island, and URI had a huge hand in it. The University, under the leadership of the State of Rhode Island, implemented a transparent public process in order to determine the best placement for the wind turbines.

Jennifer McCann, a graduate of the Marine Affairs Program, served as the point-person and liaison between the state and the University.

McCann serves as the director of U.S. Coastal Programs at the Coastal Resource Center, which is part of the URI Graduate School of Oceanography, and is also the director of the extension at Rhode Island Sea Grant.

“The University provided the technical expertise with ocean engineers and oceanographers, policy experts, outreach and education experts,” said McCann. “I was the lead to ensure that the science was appropriately incorporated in the plans. Our team at URI wrote the documents and we facilitated the whole stakeholder process. We were the workhorses who created the science and public process that resulted in an efficient, streamlined regulatory process that appropriately located the wind farm off the coast of Block Island with the least amount of impact on Rhode Islanders and wildlife.”

The wind farm has been internationally lauded, and URI has lent technical support to several nations in the building of their own coastal planning processes.

“Rhode Island’s wind farm planning process has now become an international model for ecosystem-based management and marine spatial planning,” added McCann.

Lauren Poirier, an intern in the Marketing and Communications Department at URI and public relations and English major, wrote this press release.