Articles filed under Offshore Wind from Massachusetts
State Rep. Sarah Peake, D-Provincetown, said the Baker administration, in its almost single-minded focus on low energy prices, was caught flat-footed by the technological leaps in the industry that led to greater turbine efficiency and productivity and big drops in the price of offshore wind power. Massachusetts is now in the third round of bids for state contracts to produce power for electrical distribution companies such as Eversource, Unitil, and National Grid.
In a bill filed Thursday, Gov. Baker proposes nixing the requirement that each new offshore wind project must cost less than the project that preceded it. The bill also takes the lion’s share of decisionmaking in the bid process away from the state’s three big utilities — National Grid, Eversource, and Unitil — and creates a new model in which “the state’s Department of Energy Resources would choose the successful projects with technical assistance from the utilities."
The state’s third competitive solicitation attracted bids from just Vineyard Wind and Mayflower Wind, a disappointment to Mariano and some others. The speaker last month singled out the price cap policy that requires the price of each new offshore wind project to be lower than that of the project before it and said it should be eliminated. “We’re hoping to create an industry and we just had two companies bid,” Mariano said in late September during a boat tour of the small wind farm off Block Island. He added, “That’s why we’re doing this, we want that universe to get bigger.”
The state’s third competitive solicitation attracted bids from just Vineyard Wind and Mayflower Wind, a smaller pool of bids than Mariano and others were hoping for. The speaker last week singled out the price cap policy that requires the price of each new offshore wind project to be lower than that of the project before it and said it should be eliminated.
A U.S. fishing group on Monday sued the Biden administration over its approval of the huge Vineyard Wind offshore wind project off the East Coast, saying the government had failed to address industry concerns about its potential safety and environmental impacts.
[S]ome fear that this project and others in the planning stage could also irreparably harm Massachusetts fishing and lobstering industries in the vicinity of these turbine sites. But that didn’t stop the Biden administration, as part of its aggressive offshore wind and renewable-energy agenda, from issuing final permits for Vineyard Wind in May. It’s evident that not all green-conscious activists believe wind power’s the optimum clean-energy solution.
Concerns about the fate of the right whale, whose population is dwindling, are not new. The downturn in the whale population is already happening without any wind farms being built, primarily because the whales are being hit by boats or becoming ensnared in fishing nets. Still, officials from 17 prominent environmental groups wrote a letter to the National Marine Fisheries Service in September 2020 raising concerns that regulators were failing to protect environmentally endangered mammals, including right whales, in their review of offshore wind projects. It’s unclear whether any changes were made in response to the letter; efforts to reach two of the signers were unsuccessful. Erica Fuller of the Conservation Law Foundation in Boston did not return calls over a two-day period.
The group, Nantucket Residents Against Turbines, says the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Marine Fisheries failed to ensure that Vineyard Wind would not jeopardize the survival of federally listed critically endangered species like the North Atlantic right whale. The suit also names Interior Secretary Debra Haaland and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. "The North Atlantic right whale is on the verge of extinction. However, one of its longtime safe havens – where there is ample food and protective areas for birthing and rearing young – is the area immediately south-southwest of Nantucket Island," the lawsuit reads.
Little is known about the impact offshore wind could have on wildlife. Scientists across the country agree we need to be monitoring its potential impacts, though it’s not consistently studied across the country. “I believe strongly in responsible development of offshore wind. I think it is a key to fighting climate change,” said Jessica Redfern, a senior scientist at the New England Aquarium. “What’s critically important is that it is responsibly developed and to have responsible development, we need to continue monitoring and understanding species numbers, understanding a species that are in the area, how long they’re there.”
Bob Vanasse, who heads the fishing advocacy group Saving Seafood, said Vineyard Wind and other projects proposed in the region could impact a range of significant fisheries, including squid, clams and scallops. “There are a number of groups in various fisheries who have raised concerns about the insufficiency of the planning and review effort,” he said Wednesday. “This group is far from alone in that.” Vineyard Wind also comes years after the infamous Cape Wind project, which failed after bitter litigation from another group that included Nantucket property owners.
“The construction of these turbines is set to take place in a nexus of activity of the North Atlantic right whale, a critically endangered baleen whale with a population of fewer than 400 specimens remaining in the world,” the group said in a statement Tuesday. The group also launched a website, ackrats.com, where it said, “We are concerned with the adverse impacts from the increased construction vessel traffic, pile driving, and operational noise on the critically endangered,” whales.
Between December and May, almost a quarter of the right whale population may be present in the region, and the individual residence time for whales has increased to 13 days during the period, the study states. Visual and acoustic monitoring, from flight surveys and photography, showed consistent use of the wind energy area by a third of the species, including 30 per cent of breeding females. The study was funded by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the federal agency responsible for permitting offshore wind development, as well as the state Clean Energy Center.
Conducted by scientists with NOAA Fisheries, the New England Aquarium and the Center for Coastal Studies using aerial survey data from 2011 through 2019, the study found that 327 unique right whales have been spotted in the waters of southern New England, making the area a crucial habitat for a species teetering on the edge of extinction. Scientists estimate the North Atlantic right whale population at less than 400 total specimens, including approximately 100 breeding females.
Allco, which is represented by its senior general counsel Thomas Melone, further claims that the DOI has failed OCSLA's balancing test because commercial fishing boats will effectively have to abandon the wind farm's area due to difficulties navigating there. The current plan is for 62 wind turbines. Vineyard Wind's approval was quickly condemned by the fishing industry, which raised concerns about the project's impact on fish stocks and vessel traffic.
In a lawsuit filed yesterday with the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, Thomas Melone argued that federal regulators failed to consider Vineyard Wind’s impact on other ocean users, endangered species and onshore renewable developers. He asked the court to vacate the environmental permit for the 62-turbine project. The lawsuit offers an early test for the next generation of America’s offshore wind farms.
Beyond the benefits of clean energy and conservation, developers say the project also will create 3,658 full-time jobs in Massachusetts between 2019 and 2047. Sanfilippo is suspicious of the job claims. "Nowhere have they said how many people, how many fishermen, they're going to displace," she said. "It's like we don't exist and the fishing grounds don't exist."
An offshore wind project off Massachusetts that would create enough electricity to power 400,000 homes and is touted by backers as a key piece of America’s transition to renewable energy was approved Tuesday by the federal government.
Washington, D.C. — Responsible Offshore Development Alliance (RODA), a broad membership-based coalition of fishing industry associations and fishing companies, condemns in the strongest possible terms the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) issuance of a Record of Decision for the previously terminated Vineyard Wind 1 Offshore Wind Energy Project. BOEM continues to abdicate its responsibility to the public and leave all decision-making to large, multinational corporations, including this Decision which includes effectively no mitigation measures to offset impacts to critical ocean ecosystems and commercial fisheries.
The Responsible Offshore Development Alliance (RODA) expressed concerns that the project could potentially interfere with local fisheries and economies and have a negative environmental impact. She also said the public has not had an opportunity to weigh in on the new developments. RODA executive director Annie Hawkins told Fox News that the Vineyard Wind project and "other projects proposed in a 1,400 square mile area off of New England will have major impacts to commercial fisheries."
Vineyard Wind, the wind energy developer that aims to construct America’s first industrial scale offshore wind farm some 15 miles south of Aquinnah, has resuscitated its project permit process. The company formally pulled out from the federal permitting process on Dec 1.