Barnstable gets Vineyard Windfall

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Vineyard Wind put Yarmouth in the rearview mirror and entered into a host agreement with neighboring Barnstable. The deal means the submarine cable from the offshore wind turbines will come ashore in Hyannis, the main village of Barnstable, and connect with a substation there before being distributed into the electric grid. Vineyard Wind received continuous flak from Yarmouth community members, who deemed the cable an environmental threat.

Barnstable stands to receive $1.5 million per year, according to a release from Vineyard Wind. Charlie McLaughlin, Barnstable town counsel, puts the figure a bit lower.

“The initial estimated valuations for property tax income would be close to a million dollars a year,” he told The Times.

McLaughlin said Barnstable’s chief concern in entering negotiations with Vineyard Wind was protecting its water supply from the thousands of gallons of dielectric fluid the substation will contain. McLaughlin said the town pressed for a much more sophisticated and hermetic substation than average, one that can also contain downpours from once-in-a-century storms without allowing any seepage into the water table.

McLaughlin said the substation would be situated on the grounds of the old Cape Cod Times printing plant.

“Everybody assumed it was going to come through Yarmouth,” McLaughlin said of the cable. The heat Vineyard Wind took from people in Yarmouth isn’t likely what triggered the community switch, McLaughlin said. He said he believed Barnstable offers more capacity, so if Vineyard Wind seeks another 800-megawatt bid, the easement for the first cable would suffice for a second. Yarmouth doesn’t offer such capacity, he said. He emphasized this was only speculation on his part.

Barnstable may take conservative action, even with extraordinarily hermetic substations in the mix, and move some of its wells away from the substation and the substations of Eversource, the energy company that will distribute Vineyard Wind electricity. The cost of the move would be about $20 million, he said.

The agreement between Vineyard Wind and Barnstable can’t be acted upon until approved by the Massachusetts Energies Facilities Siting Board, Vineyard Wind spokesman Scott Farmelant told The Times. He was hesitant to forecast when their review and vote would be complete.