At a U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management “virtual hearing” July 9, FirstLight Power put our support behind a plan for maritime navigation intended to accelerate the development of thousands of megawatts of offshore wind off the coast of New England.

The GE-Alstom Block Island Wind Farm stands in this aerial photograph taken above the water off Block Island, Rhode Island, U.S. Photographer: Eric Thayer/Bloomberg

Speaking for FirstLight, Director of Government Affairs and Communications Len Greene endorsed the plan the U.S. Coast Guard and all offshore wind developers holding leases in the region—Equinor, Mayflower Wind, Orsted/Eversource, and  Vineyard Wind—have developed to site turbines along a uniform 1×1 nautical mile grid layout. Greene also expressed FirstLight’s concern that adding four-mile-wide transit lanes for maritime traffic would sharply reduce the available area for wind energy and slow the region’s transition to a cleaner and more reliable renewable energy future.

“As stewards of thousands of acres of land in New England we understand the difficult job required of BOEM to safeguard the environment while responsibly providing for commercial development,’’ Greene said, explaining that the 1×1 plan strikes the optimal balance.

FirstLight has been actively working for years to develop partnerships pairing our Northfield Mountain pumped-storage hydroelectric facility, often called “New England’s biggest and greenest battery,” with offshore wind projects to maximize the environmental and economic benefits of offshore wind. By capturing surplus wind energy that would otherwise go wasted at periods of peak demand, and using Northfield Mountain’s hydroelectric generators to return that power to the grid when demand and prices are highest, FirstLight sees enormous opportunities to reduce carbon emissions and deliver savings for utility ratepayers.

“Multiple studies published in recent months examine the need to decarbonize New England’s electric grid and cite the maximization of offshore wind output to achieve these goals,’’ Greene said, citing reports by the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources/Levitan & Associates, and others.

Along with FirstLight, several other organizations urged BOEM in earlier hearings to adopt the 1×1 grid, including the Massachusetts Business Roundable, National Wildlife Federation, WindSTAR Center at UMass-Lowell, and RENEW Northeast.