To the Editor:
Okay, time to jump in the waters, so to speak. The issue of wind power development in the state waters as mapped in the Ocean Plan has brought a certain amount of rare cohesiveness in the Island’s response to it.
As our community is nearest to the Cape Wind Project, having another large commercial venture staring us in the face in an area considered so important to Islanders is just unacceptable. Having no control over what goes on in those waters is even more so. That being said, there is now the issue of working cooperatively with the federal Minerals Management Service Taskforce on future sites of wind turbines in the federal waters abutting Vineyard state waters.
In meetings I have attended with state officials, I came away with the impression that major wind power development will not take place in the state waters off the Vineyard. Several things that were said by them alluded to that. In fact, the quick acquiescence of state officials on the sovereignty of the MVC over Vineyard waters just enforces my view.
Is there the possibility of some development in the state waters? I would answer yes, but if that were to happen it will be on a small scale, perhaps a type of community/private collaboration. In a conversation I had with a Cuttyhunk official, he as much as said the same thing.
Also, the MVC will be able to regulate the scope of any local development. The Ocean Plan only allows existing approved technology to be utilized in the state waters. This is another constraint for developers, as future turbines will be much taller, create more power and can be sited in deep waters where they don’t have to deal with as many local permitting issues.
The state has actually taken an extraordinary step and facilitated allowing the Vineyard community substantial representation on the Minerals Management Service Taskforce, and while that taskforce may not have the final say in offshore federal wind development, I believe its recommendations will be an important cog in that process. Development appears to be inevitable in the federal waters. Rhode Island is already entering into agreements with private developers in those self-same waters, so it makes sense to work with this taskforce to site turbines in the least intrusive locations from economical, environmental, and visual standpoints.
I certainly agree that the state’s Ocean Plan is flawed in some of its assumptions, but that has little to do with what is happening beyond the state limits. To dwell on those flaws in discussions concerning the future of development in federal waters serves little purpose except to be ultimately tuned out of the discussion. It is far better to try and engage the federal officials in a meaningful dialogue, especially early on in the process. There certainly is nothing to be lost by participating in that dialogue.