MVC approves Vineyard Wind cable, Aquinnah DCPC

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MVC officials discuss the Vineyard Wind cable. - Brian Dowd

The Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) approved Vineyard Wind’s request to install two undersea cables off Edgartown Thursday night, after two public hearings over the past few months that at times became contentious.

The cable installation running through Edgartown is the only part of Vineyard Wind’s proposed wind farm that the MVC has purview over. The entire cable, which will connect electricity from the proposed wind turbines to a power station in Barnstable, would be 12.4 to 13.4 miles long, running north-south. Vineyard Wind is permitting a 2,600- to 3,300-foot corridor in the water, with two potential routes the cable could take.

At Thursday’s meeting, executive director Adam Turner said the MVC is responsible for protecting the Island.

“We support the development of wind energy,” Turner said. “Where we don’t have confidence is with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and the agency consistently puts the natural environment and sea animals way behind the economic development of energy companies.”

Commissioners agreed to adopt MVC staff’s recommended condition that requires all reports referred to BOEM concerning changes to the seafloor, marine species, eelgrass, benthic habitats, and other morphology, or changes, be submitted to the commission.

In addition to the staff condition, commissioners secured their seat at the Vineyard Wind table by requiring the company to come back to the MVC if the cable is decommissioned in the future, and present data on eelgrass habitat disturbance. Vineyard Wind also submitted its own offer to monitor benthic habitats, which commissioners accepted.

In other business, commissioners approved several amendments to the regulations for the town of Aquinnah’s district of critical planning concern (DCPC).

The town’s planning board submitted the amendments as a way to streamline project proposals in town and simplify the review process, to reduce the number of projects that come to the planning board.

Commissioner Jim Vercruysse, the elected member-at-large from Aquinnah, said the planing board listened to concerns and developed a way to make construction projects less of a headache for the town, builders, and homeowners.

“This is a well-received and much-needed revision to the DCPC. It’s been a very arduous process over the past 20 years to deal with all these applications and a lot of frustrated homeowners and builders,” Vercruysse said.

In addition to the amendments, commissioners also approved a designation for the Aquinnah landfill to be used for solar panels, which allows the town to qualify for Green Community status. With green community status, the town can become eligible for state grants.

With MVC approval, the amendments head to Aquinnah’s annual town meeting on May 14 to seek town voter approval.