Library filed under Offshore Wind from Massachusetts
Rhode Island coastal regulators granted Vineyard Wind a stay in permitting proceedings on Tuesday, giving the New Bedford company another two months to reach agreement with fishermen who say they would lose access to valuable fishing grounds in the waters where 84 wind turbines would be installed.
Katie Almeida, fishery policy analyst for The Town Dock, a squid dealer and processor in Rhode Island, said that for two years, her company has been asking for at least five years of pre-construction fishery monitoring, and the conversation has not gone any further. “And now we’re down to what, a year?” she said. “How can we get any meaningful science and study done that’s going to actually hold up to any kind of scrutiny for baseline studies?”
Gov. Charlie Baker wrote to Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke on Thursday to ask him to consider eliminating the highest-priority fishing areas from future leases for offshore wind, particularly in the New York Bight, a heavily fished area south of Long Island.
“In the final analysis, Vineyard Wind was not willing to commit to Yarmouth to do the things that our community was asking for,” Holcomb said. The town’s questions went unanswered by Vineyard Wind, Yarmouth Town Administrator Daniel Knapik said. ...“Right now, we are really not moving ahead with anything,” Holcomb said of the town’s interactions with Vineyard Wind.
The terms of the lease were set in September 2016, when all three companies vying for state offshore wind contracts committed to use the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal under the same terms if they were selected.
The proximity of the men’s grant areas means their oysters, which total about 3,250,000, could be smothered by sand and silt that’s stirred up when Vineyard Wind lays the cable, the letter contends. Although Vineyard Wind officials have met with the shellfishermen multiple times and proposed solutions that include installing silt curtains while work is conducted, there’s no evidence those solutions will work, according to the letter.
A September report from Bank of America Merrill Lynch indicated that the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management would approve projects like Vineyard Wind in a timely manner, Beane said. The report said timing of permitting affects whether offshore wind developers can take advantage of federal investment tax credits that are expected to expire in 2024.
As local opposition to a proposed high-wattage transmission cable intensifies, Yarmouth selectmen have rejected a second offer by offshore energy company Vineyard Wind to pay for costs incurred as the town considers a host community agreement with the company.
In response to feedback from fishermen and community members, Bay State Wind has revised the turbine layout pattern for its Massachusetts offshore wind project.
When he spoke to fishermen across the pond, he learned they were wary of navigating between the turbines. “If the little boats are afraid to go in there, there’s no way a trawler from New Bedford is going to go in there,” Hansen said.
"The fishing industry can only hope that the wind energy developers finally recognize that U.S. fishermen are going to do whatever is necessary to continue to fish where they please for the foreseeable future," Dave Wallace, a Maryland-based consultant for the ocean clam industry, said in an email. "Developers have two choices, a confrontational way, which is time-consuming and expensive, or through the two industries finding common grounds where both can survive and prosper."
The Vineyard Wind project is split into two, 400-megawatt phases, with the first phase scheduled for completion by January 15, 2022, and the second phase by January 15, 2023. The price for energy and the environmental attributes (called renewable energy credits) starts at 7.4 cents a kilowatt hour in phase one and 6.5 cents a kilowatt hour in phase two. The prices escalate at 2.5 percent a year over the 20-year life of the contract, with an average blended cost of 8.9 cents a kilowatt hour.
A plan by offshore power company Vineyard Wind to bring a high-wattage cable through Lewis Bay and onshore in West Yarmouth is energizing residents, who say that no amount of compensation is worth the damage the project could potentially inflict. “This is not about money,” West Yarmouth resident David Bernstein said at Tuesday’s Board of Selectmen meeting, which was devoted primarily to public comment on the project. “I don’t care if Vineyard Wind gives $10 million a year to the town of Yarmouth. If the bay is killed, it is killed.”
Given that everyone from Republican Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker to Democratic Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo to Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke have all been vocal in their support for offshore wind power, the question is not if more wind farms will be built, it is if they will be built in a way that works for fishermen — commercial and recreational alike.
Massachusetts and Rhode Island have announced offshore wind projects aimed at delivering a combined 1,200 megawatts of energy, enough to power 400,000 homes.
The Vineyard Wind bid was awarded under a Massachusetts law that encourages utilities to get more of their power from clean energy sources. The Baker administration is overseeing a similar effort to increase hydroelectric power for Massachusetts and is working on a different plan by Avangrid to build a power line through Maine to import electricity from Canada.
A health care provider with hospitals in Fall River, New Bedford and Wareham intends to buy offshore wind energy from one of three companies bidding for long-term contracts with the state’s three electricity distributors.
Many fisherpeople see a future where segments of their industry will ultimately disappear unless the federal government ensures their concerns are taken into account in the construction and development of wind farms. Fisherpeople’s fears include the incompatibility of certain types of fishing gear with the clustered placement of wind turbines and a lack of site-specific research regarding economic and ecological impacts of the turbines.