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NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — Quonset State Airport will receive new infrastructure, equipment and jobs as part of an agreement to host helicopter operations for offshore wind power projects in the Northeast United States.

Block Island Wind Farm operator Ørsted and electric utility provider Eversource announced last week that HeliService International Inc. was awarded the contract for helicopter crew change operations for the two companies’ joint wind power generation activities.

The deal is the first helicopter contract to support the United States offshore wind industry and will create jobs and economic development in both helicopter assembly and future operations, the companies said.  

The contract will bring approximately $1.8 million of investment to the Quonset State Airport in North Kingstown, according to the companies. Upgrades at the airport will include new check-in and reception spaces, handling and administrative buildings for helicopter operations and upgrades to hangar and maintenance areas.

Gov. Dan McKee and Steven J. King, managing director of the Quonset Development Corporation, hailed the agreement as a win for Quonset and the state.

“Today’s announcement reconfirms Quonset’s emerging role as one of the leading hubs for the United States offshore wind industry, which will bring innovative economic development to Rhode Island, create good paying jobs to support Rhode Island families and help the Ocean State achieve its ambitious renewable energy goals,” King said.

“I am proud to see this first-of-its-kind contract take off here in Rhode Island,” McKee said. “The Ocean State is a leader in offshore wind energy, and this agreement will help strengthen the industry, create jobs and spur economic development, and further our sustainable, affordable, clean energy goals.”

The Leonardo AW169 helicopters are powered by two Pratt and Whitney PW210 series engines and are capable of crew transport as well as using a hoist system to lift wind technicians to and from the top of wind turbines.

“This helicopter contract represents just one of the many important ways the offshore wind industry is supporting manufacturing and assembly jobs and infrastructure upgrades, both in Rhode Island and across the United States,” Ørsted official David Ortiz said.

The aircraft will support crew transfer and hoisting at the South Fork Wind, Revolution Wind and Sunrise Wind offshore wind farms during construction. They will be assembled on the Leonardo Helicopters assembly line in Philadelphia.

“We are very much looking forward to working with Ørsted and Eversource and to supporting their operations,” J.O. Freiland, CEO of HeliService, said. “We wish to thank Ørsted and Eversource for their trust in HeliService.”

Once complete, South Fork Wind, Sunrise Wind and Revolution Wind will generate approximately 1.8 gigawatts of offshore wind power, enough to power more than one million homes.

The projects also aim to be large generators of jobs.

“Offshore wind has tremendous potential to create well-paying jobs in communities across the country,” Eversource official Julia Bovey said. “As we continue to transition to a new, clean energy future – one powered by the untapped potential of renewable energy – we are once again making good on our promise to help create a new supply chain here at home that will benefit American workers for years to come.”

Through their joint projects, Ørsted and Eversource are supporting the development of a domestic offshore wind supply chain. The companies recently announced that work has begun on the first U.S.-built service operations vessel, and crew transfer vessel charter agreements that will support the building of five new vessels in Rhode Island shipyards.

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