Articles filed under Offshore Wind from Massachusetts
Members of Congress have become involved in trying to move Vineyard Wind forward, a top Baker administration official said Tuesday, as lobbying intensifies to advance what state officials hope will be the nation’s first commercial-scale offshore wind project.
A spokesman for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management offered no explanation for the holdup but said more time was needed. The spokesman also noted that the agency was well within the two-year review window for such projects. The two-year review window is up in March 2020 – after construction was scheduled to begin.
Vineyard Wind, the company that's planning to build the state's first offshore wind farm, is facing setbacks for the project of 84 turbines in waters near Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. The Edgartown Conservation Commission voted against approval for transmission cables that Vineyard Wind wants to lay about a mile east of the town. The Federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has put off issuing a final environmental impact statement on the wind farm. Sarah Mizes-Tan, a reporter with WGBH’s Cape Cod bureau, spoke with WGBH Radio’s Arun Rath about the wind farm and some of the setbacks. This transcript has been edited for clarity.
The clock is ticking. Vineyard Wind’s utility contracts require the first phase to go online by Jan. 15, 2022. The developer has orders with suppliers lined up that could be jeopardized. There’s also some question about a federal tax credit that expires at the end of 2019. Vineyard Wind has apparently qualified, but that status could be in trouble if certain milestones aren’t met. None of Vineyard Wind’s rivals want to see the project collapse.
The Edgartown conservation commission, in a 5-1 vote, has denied a permit for cables that would pass through the Muskeget Channel.
Project officials late Wednesday announced that they had been informed by the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) that “they are not yet prepared to issue” the final environmental impact statement (EIS) for the 800 megawatt project.
“This process is moving too fast, and everyone needs to slow down and make sure we aren’t creating problems for the North Atlantic right whale that can’t be reversed,” Vallorie Oliver of ACK Residents Against Turbines said Tuesday. “This particular animal is clearly struggling, yet it appears that the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries, in their rush to clear the path for Vineyard Wind, are forgetting their obligation to protect the whale.”
The Baker administration wants to look into the potential of having one underwater transmission line that could feed electricity generated by multiple offshore wind farms into the regional power grid, but that plan got a cool reception from offshore wind executives attending an industry conference in Boston this week.
CENTERVILLE — With a final environmental impact decision from the federal government pending, Vineyard Wind representatives met with the community again Thursday to shed light on preliminary construction plans for Covell Beach, where they plan to install high-voltage electricity transmission cables on Barnstable’s southern shoreline.
A report released Friday by the Department of Energy Resources calls for the state to move forward with an additional procurement of up to 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind capacity, or enough to power up to 1 million homes. That would be on top of the 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind Massachusetts was authorized to award contracts for under a 2016 renewable energy law.
A chart in the report noted the Vineyard Wind contract price was 6.5 cents per kilowatt hour in 2017 dollars, slightly higher than the price of Quebec hydro-electricity being purchased in a separate procurement and double the price of electricity produced with natural gas. The offshore wind price was half the price of the state’s least-subsidized solar power option.
The state Energy Facilities Siting Board approved petitions Thursday that will allow Vineyard Wind to land its high-voltage electricity transmission cables on Barnstable’s southern shoreline and connect them to a new substation off Independence Way in Hyannis.
The Massachusetts Fishermen’s Partnership claims that the 84-turbine offshore wind project soon to be developed by Vineyard Wind lacks scientific backing and will inevitably harm the local ecology and way of life for fishermen and boaters.
The changed amendment ...would direct the Department of Public Utilities to not approve any subsequent offshore wind contract “if the levelized price per megawatt hour, plus associated transmission costs, is greater than or equal to the adjusted levelized price per megawatt hour, plus transmission costs, that resulted from the previous procurement after adjusting such procurement’s price for the availability of federal tax credits, inflation and incentives.”
The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities approved multibillion dollar offshore wind contracts with Vineyard Wind on Friday and, over the objections of Attorney General Maura Healey, authorized the state’s three utilities to collect an additional $168 million from ratepayers just for carrying the contracts on their books.
Officials said the first priority is to secure approval from the Department of Public Utilities for the RFP, then ask for company responses by August, and award the contract or contracts in November – allowing just enough time to take advantage of the 12 percent federal investment tax credit that expires at the end of 2019.
In a March 15 letter, Michael Pentony, the head of the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, warned that the report on Vineyard Wind completed by the U.S Bureau of Ocean Energy Management in December included conclusions that were not well supported by data and needed additional analysis of several key angles of impact.
The March 12 Vineyard Wind public forum at Barnstable Town Hall gave residents a chance to question company officials.
To me, these three proposed wind farms are a money grab, business venture with taxpayers on the hook. There is nothing Vineyard about Vineyard Wind. I wonder how many of the company executives own electric cars, stopped flying, or practice what they preach. A few people are going to make a lot of money, and a lot of us are going to pay for it.