Vineyard Wind received some unwelcome news this week when company officials were informed the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management was not prepared to “issue the final Environmental Impact Statement for the 800 MW Vineyard Wind 1 project.”
Courtesy of NREL
Vineyard Wind is the first utility-scale offshore wind energy project in the US, located over 14 miles off the coast of Massachusetts.
The final environmental impact statement had been scheduled for release in early June but was postponed for one month. At that time, BOEM stated it intended to meet the August 16 deadline for a final decision on the plan, called a record of decision. It is unclear whether BOEM still intends to adhere to that schedule.
Construction on the project was slated to begin later this year.
According to a statement on Vineyard Wind’s website, “We understand that, as the first commercial scale offshore wind project in the US, the Vineyard Wind project will undergo extraordinary review before receiving approvals. As with any project of this scale and complexity, changes to the schedule are anticipated. Vineyard Wind remains resolutely committed to working with BOEM to deliver the United States’ first utility-scale wind farm and its essential benefits – an abundant supply of cost-effective clean energy combined with enormous economic and job-creation opportunities.”
The project had been sailing along up to this point, receiving approval from the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities for long-term power purchase contracts between Vineyard Wind and Massachusetts’ electric distribution companies, the go-ahead from the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board for construction and operation of electric transmission facilities and certification of the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) which allowed the wind farm to proceed with state, regional and local permitting.
The announcement from BOEM, along with the decision of the Edgartown Conservation Commission to deny Vineyard Wind a permit for transmission cables, previously approved by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, puts the project timeline in jeopardy.
At its July 10th meeting, the commission voted 5-1 to deny the permit after previously hearing testimony from fishermen, climate activists and other concerned citizens.
The Vineyard Gazette quoted Commissioner Jeff Carlson, saying, “This is new stuff. I think it needs more work, and we’re right in the crosshairs of it.”
There has been no word yet from Vineyard Wind on whether they will appeal the decision.