Library filed under Offshore Wind from Massachusetts
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.
With regard to the proposed spacing of one nautical mile, the fishing group wrote, “RODA reiterates, consistent with each of our previous comments on the record, that most fishing vessels will not be able to operate in this array and significant displacement will still occur due to (one-nautical-mile) spacing.”
The agreement is significant because many Massachusetts politicians, including US Rep. Joe Kennedy III and Sen. Ed Markey, have accused the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Trump administration of playing politics with the process. But the agreement by the five wind farm developers suggests they, and particularly Vineyard Wind, recognized a need to address the consistency of their project designs.
In a bid to work with the commercial fishing industry and other ocean users, the developers planning offshore wind farms in the waters off Rhode Island and Massachusetts have agreed to space turbines one nautical mile apart and lay them out in uniform rows from east to west and columns from north to south.
“Since the business case is being impacted by external delays, we are requesting an extension from the IRS for the originally planned ITCs of the project,” Torgerson told analysts. “We’re petitioning the IRS to get an extension of that ITC at the 24 percent level…through the 2022 timeframe.” The delay means Vineyard may be able to upgrade to longer rotor blades for its 9.5-megawatt MHI Vestas turbines, Torgerson said — jumping from a 164-meter rotor diameter up to 174 meters. Longer blades mean more electricity can be generated.
Few details about the price or the onshore investment were revealed, but Mayflower said in its original bid that the price would be “the lowest cost offshore wind energy ever in the US.” Mayflower is a joint venture of Shell New Energies and EDP Renewables. ...It appears Mayflower was far and away the easy choice. The state’s press release said the company offered a lower price and greater economic development opportunities than the other two bidders – Vineyard Wind, the company that won the first offshore wind procurement, and Bay State Energy, which lost for the second time.
The commission this summer denied the project's plans to bury two transmission cables in Nantucket Sound and Muskeget Channel areas within Edgartown, and the project appealed to the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). After the department issued an order of conditions favoring the project, the commission appealed and the settlement was reached before that appeal was fully heard by another wing of the DEP.
“It’s going to take some time, longer than we expected for this project,” said Bennett, who was asked about the agency’s timetable by Attorney General Maura Healey’s chief of staff, Mike Firestone. Bennett was at the Sheraton Boston Hotel taking part in an offshore wind panel at an eastern region meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General.
Offers other options with higher prices plus onshore investments
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.
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.
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).