Vineyard Wind environmental report seeks public comment

Spokesman says offshore wind project is on track for 2021 completion.

1
A 45-day public comment period has opened for input on Vineyard Wind's draft environmental impact statement. — Courtesy Vineyard Wind

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has issued a notice of availability to make Vineyard Wind’s draft environmental impact statement available to the public, according to a release from Vineyard Wind.

Members of the public will have a chance to review the draft — which provides an analysis of potential environmental impacts of Vineyard Wind’s construction and operations plan — and give input during a 45-day public comment period that will end on Jan. 21. The draft is part of the bureau’s review of Vineyard Wind’s proposed 800-megawatt wind farm to be constructed in federal waters 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard. Vineyard Wind has said the project’s preferred cable landing will be in the town of Barnstable.

The bureau will hold five public meetings throughout the region during the public comment period. The public can submit comments in person at the meetings, deliver written comments by mail, or submit comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Information on where and how to submit comments can be found at vineyardwind.com/edis.

The five public meetings will be held in New Bedford, Hyannis, Nantucket, Vineyard Haven, and Narragansett, R.I. The Vineyard Haven meeting will be on Jan. 17 at the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center from 5 pm to 8 pm.

According to the release, the draft’s publication represents Vineyard Wind’s progress as it moves through the permitting process.

Rhode Island’s Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) agreed to postpone a decision on a “consistency certification” until Jan. 28 to give Vineyard Wind more time to address concerns with the fishing community, which is worried about loss of fishing revenue, damaged fishing gear, and ability to fish in the project’s area. During the extension, Vineyard Wind must submit weekly status updates.

Consistency certifications are for projects requiring a federal permit, authorization, or funding.

The CRMC has to ensure the project is consistent with Rhode Island’s coastal program.

Scott Farmelant, a Vineyard Wind spokesman, told The Times Vineyard Wind’s project schedule is on track for completion of construction in 2021.

Farmelant added that Vineyard Wind has been working with the fishing community to address concerns. Vineyard Wind recently announced its decision to procure 9.5-megawatt turbines, which will reduce the project’s footprint in the area from 108 turbines to 84 turbines. The turbines will be placed one nautical mile apart in the wind development area, which is approximately 118 square miles.

The release states that when the Vineyard Wind project is operational, it will reduce Massachusetts carbon emissions by more than 1.6 million tons per year, and offer $3.7 billion in energy-related cost savings.

“Our project has improved significantly over the past six months through substantive public comment and participation in the permitting process,” Vineyard Wind CEO Eric Stephens said in the release. “Our team continues to work on improving the proposal wherever possible, in particular with regard to the project’s interaction with the region’s fisheries, and we look forward to receiving additional input and guidance during this stage of the permitting process.”