Library from Massachusetts
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.
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.
The business groups argue that halting the surcharges would provide some rate relief to both commercial and residential customers at a time when many are having financial difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 shutdown. “We’re not looking to decimate these programs, but we are saying, ‘We’ve got to take a breather,’” said Doug Gablinske, executive director of the Energy Council of Rhode Island, which represents large energy users.
The rural opposition has been so strong that earlier this year, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo added a provision, known as Article 23, to the state budget that effectively strips local communities of their ability to stop big renewable-energy projects from being built in their jurisdictions. ...New Englanders like the idea of wind energy they just don’t want any wind turbines in New England. So they are putting them in New York.
The U.S. Coast Guard has concluded that the best way to maintain maritime safety and ease of navigation in the offshore wind development areas south of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket is to install turbines in a uniform layout to create predictable navigation corridors. ...Having 4 nautical miles of space - rather than either 0.7 nm or 1 nm, depending on the direction of travel, under the developers' plan - would allow for "sufficient sea room for large enough alteration of course, made in good time, to avoid close-quarters situations and passing at a safe distance" and provide other safety and navigational benefits, RODA said.
Sound testing at Hoosac Wind so far has been manipulated to lower sound levels measured in various ways including having up to 3 turbines running during ambient sound measurements. This is not acceptable, nor is it scientific and the facts will be forthcoming.
In deeper waters of the gulf, wind power will be achieved only with the use of floating turbines. The extensive anchoring and cabling that would be required means “lease areas will become de facto closures to fishing,” the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance wrote in an April 14 letter the governors of Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
Those types of disputes are “what we’re trying to avoid happening now,” said Annie Hawkins, executive director of the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance, or RODA. The coalition of fishing stakeholders aims to get the industry on the same page as researchers and wind developers across the region. “We’re trying to make sure fishermen are much more involved in the process from day one,” Hawkins said. She’d like to see more work across state lines to coordinate policy and research.
Based on sound level testing done last year for the Scituate Wind turbine, results indicate the turbine is in compliance with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Noise Policy.
The association is among a growing number of environmental and conservation organizations taking the position that, as long as better options exist that will support solar installations, clear-cutting forests for solar is the wrong approach to mitigating climate change. ...ground-mounted arrays consume open space, diminish forest-based carbon sequestration and cooling, fragment wildlife habitat and degrade the other important resource values of our natural lands.
McInnes’s Jan. 30, 2020 letter to the Dartmouth Zoning Board of Appeals states that Brady Estates’ time to keep the land for a solar development is up. “Therefore, the Select Board concurrently opposes the present request by Brady Estates to amend the variance decision in order to modify the terms under which it can delay the conveyance of Parcel B,” the letter reads. The Select Board, the letter notes, intends to deliver a demand for execution of the deed “at or before the next hearing date.”
After years of fighting, Plymouth has declared several massive wind turbines a public health nuisance. “Thank goodness they’re responding,” said Karen McMahon, who has lived for three years in the shadow of several 500-foot tall wind turbines. “It’s horrible and it vibrates. And it vibrates the windows.”
The four 500-foot ConEdison Solutions wind turbines were installed in June 2016. They sit close to the Bourne border, but because they are located in Plymouth, it has been difficult for Bourne residents to fight through their own town government. Since their installation, the Buzzards Bay Action Committee, a nonprofit group dedicated to preserve and protect Buzzards Bay, has collected approximately 360 complaints from residents in the area. Complaints include shadow flicker, nausea, vertigo, sleep disturbance, headaches, anxiety and sound disturbances. “We have 360 complaints and they go unanswered,” Plymouth resident Larry McGrath said before the vote was taken. “Nobody does anything to protect us.”
“The allegations made by the Massachusetts Democrats are unfounded and uninformed. In reality, the Department of the Interior carries out the appropriate environmental review of impacts of all energy projects – renewable and non-renewable—based on the following: the law, the facts and often after extensive public input.”
Federal agencies assessing the environmental impact of Vineyard Wind are now expecting the long-delayed process to wrap up sometime in December, according to a top Baker administration official. ...That timetable is problematic for wind farm developers up and down the coast, but especially for the two companies that have been awarded power purchase contracts by Massachusetts utilities and are eager to begin construction.
The Responsible Offshore Development Alliance called for the creation of six travel lanes, each one four nautical miles in width, through the entire lease area off the coast of the two states. The offshore wind developers in November had proposed no special travel lanes, choosing instead to let fishermen navigate through turbines set one nautical mile apart traveling north and south and seven-tenths of a nautical mile going diagonally.