Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee unveiled legislation today that would more than double the amount of power the state has agreed to purchase from offshore wind farms being developed off the southern coast of Martha’s Vineyard. 

If passed by the state legislature, the bill would require Rhode Island's utility providers to buy another 600 megawatts of electricity from offshore wind companies, enough to power as many as 340,000 homes. 

Rhode Island is already one of just two states in the U.S. that uses electricity generated by an offshore wind farm. 

A project built in 2016 in state waters off the coast of Block Island currently powers about 17,000 homes in Rhode Island. Another project awaiting federal approval, Revolution Wind, has a contract in place with local utilities to provide enough power for an additional 200,000 homes in Rhode Island. 

McKee’s bill, introduced at his request by State Sen. Dawn Euer and State Rep. Art Handy, aims to spur the development of a third offshore wind farm, which would be the biggest in the state so far. 

Put together, McKee said the three projects could thrust Rhode Island past a major milestone toward net-zero emissions. 

“Offshore wind would cover 50 percent of the state's projected energy needs,” the governor said at a press conference on Wednesday outside a port facility in Providence dedicated to manufacturing turbine bases.

Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos said the proposed legislation would require any offshore wind companies that win a power purchase agreement to reach a project labor agreement with local unions. 

The bill began its journey through the state legislature today with a Senate committee hearing. 

Ben Berke can be reached at bberke@thepublicsradio.org. Follow him on Twitter @BenBerke6.