Library from Massachusetts
After Massachusetts-based Vineyard Wind asked the Interior Department for a temporary pause in the federal permitting process, which can take years to complete, the department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management terminated the project. Now that the 800-megawatt wind farm is no longer under review, the developer will have to submit a new application. That will kick-start an environmental review that could take up to 18 months, according to various reports.
“Since the COP has been withdrawn from review and decision-making, there is no longer a proposal for a major federal action awaiting technical and environmental review, nor is there a decision pending before BOEM,” the agency wrote in the register posting. “Thus, in light of Vineyard Wind’s letter dated December 1, 2020, this notice advises the public that the preparation and completion of an [environmental impact statement] is no longer necessary, and the process is hereby terminated.”
Vineyard Wind LLC’s decision to push back a permitting review of the $2.8 billion offshore wind farm it plans to build near Massachusetts could delay the project by more than a year, under a ruling by the U.S. Interior Department.
The judge based his ruling on the Bourne health board’s own wind energy conversion system regulations that state that no one can build such a system in Bourne unless it is in compliance with the regulations. Judge Nickerson ruled, though, that the regulations do not authorize the board of health to regulate the construction of wind turbines in Plymouth. In his ruling, however, Judge Nickerson said the Bourne health board has “broad powers to regulate and prevent nuisances that affect public health.” His ruling ended with the proviso that the board of health might have future legal recourse to combat a nuisance to the town and its residents.
The announcement came in conjunction with news that the 800-megawatt offshore wind project plans to use GE Renewable Energy’s Haliade-X wind turbine generators when it begins construction, which it called “industry leading” and “the most powerful in operation to date.”
The Baker administration this week approved the contracts for offshore wind power generation from the Mayflower Wind project, an offshore wind farm that is expected to provide the state and its electric ratepayers with total economic benefits of about $2.4 billion over the next two decades.
“I remain extremely frustrated with the state, on the one hand, saying we’re going to have to pay back the $3.5 million dollars, but on the other hand saying we’re not going to help you,” board member Douglas H. Jones said. “The state agencies are not communicating with each other or are speaking from two sides of their face at the same time. I understand that they are different state organizations, but the fact that the DoER [Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources] isn’t willing to allow us to use the 25A procurement law is just unbelievable.” Mr. Jones said the decision has tied the town’s hands, leaving it with no viable way to move forward with disposal of the turbines.
Vineyard Wind has announced a transmission agreement with ISO New England (ISO-NE) to deliver power to the system operator’s grid when the Vineyard Wind 1 project comes online. The 800-MW offshore wind farm, located about 15 miles off the cost of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, is expected to be the first commercial-scale offshore wind farm in the U.S.
After a decade of issues regarding the two wind turbines that stand at the wastewater treatment plant, the town is no closer to seeing them dismantled. The town has been working to find ways to either move the turbines for use elsewhere or dismantling and disposing of them completely. The state recently rejected the town’s request under a specific law that would have made it easier to dismantle the turbines without costing millions of more dollars.
Mayflower Wind recently got approval from the Falmouth Conservation Commission to conduct geotechnical boring investigations at two beach parking lots to eventually install underground cables. The company will appear before the Select Board on Monday to get permission to conduct the tests on town property.
Jacquart explained that when the university acquired the turbine in 2012, hopes were high for an inexpensive service contract while its power output would equate to roughly one percent of the campus energy usage. He said the turbine would frequently break down and generate less and less electricity every time it broke, eventually costing the school more money to maintain it than it was generating.
Cathay Bank, which issued a $5 million loan for the wind turbine, said in a federal lawsuit filed on July 24 that Kingston Wind Independence received the settlement after pursuing arbitration against the turbine manufacturer and the bank wants to be paid back for its outstanding balance, $1.8 million.
Offshore wind is the renewable-energy industry’s shiny new toy. Led by New York, seven Atlantic-coast states have now imposed mandates to expand offshore wind use over the next decade, with the Empire State last week soliciting bids for an additional 2,500 megawatts of offshore power, on top of the 1,700 megawatts procured previously.
The offshore wind industry, the growth of which has been stunted by a longer-than-anticipated federal permitting process, is critical if Massachusetts and other Northeast states are to meet their carbon reduction goals, a bipartisan group of 40 state lawmakers wrote in a letter supporting the Vineyard Wind I project planned for waters 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard.
Corporate Surrogates for Massachusetts have spent close to $17 million so far battling a referendum question in Maine that seeks to block the importation of hydroelectricity from Quebec using a power line running through wilderness areas in the western part of the state.
While voted on as separate projects, the Planning Board wants to resolve the payment of a bond for the decommissioning of developer Mary O’Donnell’s three wind turbines before approving a solar canopy project on her property.
The impact on local commercial fishing from the Vineyard Wind project was rated as moderate, while the report predicted that the cumulative impact on all offshore wind development planned for the next decade could be major.
The agency “recognizes that fishing is an important use of federal waters that will be considered in its decision-making,” according to the statement. “BOEM will engage with commercial and recreational fishermen to ensure a full understanding of potential impacts. BOEM will solicit input from the fishing community for project siting, best management practices, research, and monitoring.” Specific to the Vineyard Wind project, the environmental statement considers six alternative scenarios for laying out the array – including a dedicated vessel transit lane, as wide as four nautical miles, that was proposed by the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance, a coalition of fishing groups.
The analysis found none of the alternative layouts provided any significant advantage for the fishing industry. “The overall cumulative impacts of any alternative when combined with past, present, and reasonably foreseeable activities on commercial fisheries and for-hire recreational fishing would be major,” the report said. “This impact rating is driven mostly by changes to fish distribution/availability due to climate change, reduced stock levels due to fishing mortality, and permanent impacts due to the presence of structures (cable protection measures and foundations).” The assessment also found that the configuration with a navigation lane reduced the amount of power produced by the wind farm areas in Rhode Island and Massachusetts by about 3,300 megawatts.
Publication of the document marks a step forward for the Vineyard Wind project, which has experienced delays over concerns that its wind turbines will hurt commercial fishing. The supplemental review by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, announced last year, also considered the impacts of many such projects due to the growing number of offshore wind farms planned for the East Coast.