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Edgartown conservation agent Jane Varkonda told The Times Edgartown didn’t receive the August 5 superseding order of conditions from the commonwealth in a timely manner. Varkonda said she learned by happenstance the decision had been made during a conversation with a state official. Upon learning Edgartown was without the decision, the official sent it.
BOSTON – Bay State Wind, a 50/50 joint venture between Danish energy company Ørsted and New England energy company Eversource, has submitted a bid for Massachusetts' second solicitation for commercial offshore wind.
Overwhelming, too, for Al Eagles, a lobsterman from Newport, who questioned why the federal government is allowing projects to go forward when so little is known about their effects. “To me, everything you said up here was all unknowns,” Eagles said to Hare. “We could be devastating entire species out there. By the time we realize it, it would be too late.” Lanny Dellinger, also a Newport lobsterman and chair of a board that advises Rhode Island coastal regulators on fishing issues related to offshore wind, said the entire fishing industry is under threat.
Glander went on to write that the Coast Guard may make the same recommendation for Vineyard Wind that it did for the Block Island Wind Farm, a research analysis indicating whether the turbines “produce radar reflections, blind spots, shadow areas, or other effects that could adversely impact safety of navigation.” If there are negative impacts to marine radar, Glander wrote, Vineyard Wind should recommend how to remedy them. If such remedies are necessary, he wrote they should be “funded by Vineyard Wind.”
It is furthermore unclear how Secretary Bernhardt could issue a decision on the DEIS, when critical impact categories such as fishing vessel transit, disruption payments, baseline ecological information, radar interference and others are yet to be settled.
Final approval for the Vineyard Wind Project will likely not happen for at least another 18 months, according to information received from multiple sources by The Public’s Radio. This means the country’s first large scale offshore wind farm won’t begin construction in time to take advantage of a lucrative federal tax credit that expires at the end of the year.
With the federal tax credit for offshore wind projects about to expire, every day counts.
Interior ordering supplemental study of Vineyard Wind project The Trump administration cast the fate of the nation’s first major offshore wind farm into doubt by extending an environmental review for the $2.8 billion Vineyard Wind project off Massachusetts.
“Comments received from stakeholders and cooperating agencies requested a more robust cumulative analysis,” BOEM spokesman Tracey Moriarty said in an email. “Considering such comments, and taking into account recent state offshore wind procurement announcements, BOEM is expanding its cumulative analysis of projects within its draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to also include projects that have been awarded power purchase agreements, but may not have submitted Construction and Operations Plans (COPs), and potential scenarios based on state procurements that are expected to be awarded.”
Connie Gillette, chief of public affairs for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, said Friday the agency took the action after receiving comments “from stakeholders and cooperating agencies” requesting a more robust cumulative analysis that would include projects that have been awarded power purchase agreements, but may not have submitted construction and operations plans.
Vineyard Wind’s, the $2.8 billion, 800-megawatt offshore wind project planned for waters off Martha’s Vineyard, appears to have been delayed, perhaps significantly, by the federal government.
The Trump administration was unsatisfied with the studies done on how much the wind industry would impact the fishing industry and has ordered an extended review: "An Interior Department review explored how Vineyard Wind may affect other industries and resources, including marine life. But the National Marine Fisheries Service raised concerns it looked too narrowly at potential cumulative effects on fishing, prompting the supplemental review."
Beyond the immediate concerns with permitting, Vineyard Wind faces a tangle of logistical challenges and potential investor turmoil if the project continues to see delays. Anthony Logan, an industry expert with the renewables research firm Wood Mackenzie Power, has spent the past six years forecasting the wind energy field. He said that while Vineyard Wind, barring major disaster, remains poised to become the first industrial-scale offshore wind-farm in the U.S., the financial success of the project is dependent on qualifying for a federal tax incentive for wind energy projects, known as the investment tax credit (ITC).
All three federal agencies that weighed in on Vineyard Wind’s construction and operations plan have coalesced around the east-to-west orientation of the 84 wind turbines. The three agencies are supporting a distance of at least 1 mile between the turbines, which is a marked contrast to the company’s diagonal layout plan with less space between, according to the Times review of 349 public comments on the draft environmental impact statement.
One section of the proposed cable route passes through the Muskeget Channel about a mile from Chappaquiddick, and therefore falls under the auspices of the Edgartown conservation commission. In a 5-1 vote, the commission denied Vineyard Wind a permit to lay cable in the channel. Vineyard Wind has since appealed to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.
Vineyard Wind already agreed to a nearly $17 million mitigation package in Rhode Island. But it doesn’t look like that will be enough. The fishing industry still has many issues. For example, the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association is worried about the effect these giant towers could have on boat radar, and the impediments that transmission cables could cause.
Advocates and legislators gathered Monday to discuss the threats facing North Atlantic right whales and to call for more conservation efforts.
BOEM spokesman Stephen Boutwell said NMFS is required to co-sign the project’s Record of Decision, a formal decision document, for the permit to be issued. The final environmental impact study and record of decision had originally been expected in April but were later delayed to June and then early July. Boutwell said the agency does not “have a date for these publications at this time.”
The National Marine Fisheries Service is refusing to sign off on an environmental impact report originally expected July 7, Reuters said, citing previously unseen federal documents. Fishing industry representatives want proposed wind turbines farther apart than the currently planned 0.75 nautical mile, want the turbines aligned east-west instead of northwest-southeast, and want compensation for any damage to their livelihoods, according to Reuters.