Vineyard Power partners with OffshoreMW


Vineyard Power (VP), a community-owned energy cooperative based here, signed an agreement and entered into a partnership with OffshoreMW, an offshore wind developer owned by the Blackstone Group.

The collaboration, known as the Martha’s Vineyard Offshore Wind Alliance (MVOWA), VP, and OffshoreMW submitted a lease application on April 15 to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE). The application was filed in response to the Massachusetts Request for Interest (RFI) to develop an offshore renewable energy wind farm.

VP was first developed by the Vineyard Energy Project to help Martha’s Vineyard achieve the energy goals of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission’s Island Plan. VP incorporated in 2009 and now has about 1,100 members.

VP president Richard Andre said the MVOWA is one of 10 applicants that responded to the RFI by the deadline. Others included big developers such as Cape Wind, Neptune, and Bluewater. He and director Susan Wasserman met with The Times this week to discuss VP’s new partnership and the MVOWA lease proposal.

VP members gave approval in February for the cooperative to apply for lease blocks in two areas of federal waters more than 12 miles southeast of Martha’s Vineyard proposed for commercial leasing for wind energy projects.

One is in the Massachusetts Request for Interest (RFI) area about 12 nautical miles south of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, and the other to the west in an area of mutual interest (AMI) between Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

VP selected six of the blocks that suited members’ preferences, based on surveys. However, Mr. Andre said there is a high probability the other nine applicants may have an overlapping interest in the same area.

VP’s business plan calls for 20 large-scale utility wind turbines that would produce 40 mega-watts of energy, Mr. Andre said. That represents about 10 percent of the 200 to 250 wind turbine project that OffshoreMW envisions, which would produce 1,000 mega-watts of energy.

The partnership offers financial backing for VP, which estimates the cost of its project at $190 million. OffshoreMW already is financially qualified with BOEMRE to hold a lease. OffshoreMW’s sister company, WindMW, is now building a 288 megawatt offshore wind project off Germany in North Sea.

Ms. Wasserman said it is unclear yet what the process will be from application to actual lease. In the meantime, Mr. Andre said VP members have lobbied the federal government with letters in support of a “multi-factored approach” in which community-owned projects would be given preference.