Edgartown board hears Vineyard Wind pitch

Critic Helen Parker alleges turbines create acoustic pollution.

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Clinical Psychologist Helen Parker told the Edgartown Conservation Commission on May 22 that wind turbines create dangerous infrasound pollution.—Rich Saltzberg

Vineyard Wind is seeking approval from the Edgartown conservation commission to run two export cables off the coast of Chappaquiddick as part of the wind farm it intends to build about 15 miles south of the Vineyard. The cables are meant to transfer electricity generated from 84 wind turbines to a landfall point in Barnstable, where it will be channeled into the electric grid. Vineyard Wind representatives came before the commission on May 22 to present an overview of their plans. The commission was scheduled to reconvene on the matter on June 12 to further deliberate, and possibly take a vote.

The cables have already been approved by the state Energy Facilities Siting Board and by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.

Holly Carlson Johnston, a senior consultant at Epsilon Associates, an environmental consulting firm working on behalf of Vineyard Wind, told the commission that depending on the composition and topography of the seabed and the vigor of currents, the cables will stretch between 12.4 and 13.7 miles under the Muskeget Channel. A corridor from 810 to 1,000 meters wide has been mapped for the cables, she said, to be sited based upon the most suitable seabed conditions. Once their paths are sited, she said, the two cables will be spaced about 330 feet apart, and at their closest, will be about one mile off the Chappaquiddick shore.

“The cables themselves are 10 inches in diameter,” she said. They will be buried at a “target depth” of five to eight feet by an apparatus called a jet plow.

“A jet plow is essentially a piece of equipment that sits on the seafloor and has a string of high-pressure water nozzles that fluidize a very narrow swath of the seabed,” she said.

A jet plow rests on skids on the seafloor, she noted. It will cut “about one meter wide for each of the two cables,” she said. This requires only one pass, she said, because the cable drops into the trench and sediment settles onto it and buries it.

She estimated the cable would be laid at about 100 meters per hour, and from Wasque Point to Cape Pogue, the work should be done in just over a week.

“Vineyard Wind’s absolute priority is to achieve burial and have that burial be contained,” she said. “We will be performing post-construction geophysical surveys both to verify initial burial of the cables, and to verify that they remain buried.”

If seabed is encountered that’s unsuitable for burial — too rocky, for example — Johnston said a “very conservative” plan in a “worst-case scenario” would be to employ concrete mattresses or some type of rock protection to cover the cables. In either case, these would be “about 10 feet wide either way.”

“Have you spoken with local fishermen, individuals, or groups?” conservation commission member Geoffrey Kontje asked before departing early from the meeting.

“Both, and extensively over a number of years now,” Johnston responded.

Richard Fuka, president of the Rhode Island Fishermen’s Alliance, told The Times that over the course of 16 miles of cable for Deepwater Wind’s Block Island wind project, 16 concrete mattresses had to be sunk. Fuka said they weren’t initially charted, and mobile gear fishermen, fishing squid and fluke primarily, snagged their nets on the mattresses, damaging them. Restitution was an ordeal, he said, because neither Deepwater Wind nor National Grid, its partner in the project, would accept responsibility for the cable. National Grid finally did, he said. Even charted, he described the mattresses as a “pain in the [expletive]” for fishermen. Vineyard Wind hasn’t reached out to him to ask his opinion on mattresses or other cable matters for their Massachusetts project, he said.

Helen Parker, a clinical psychologist from Chilmark, who previously expressed concerns about the Vineyard Wind’s project to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, told the commission the wind turbines would create harmful infrasound.

“Infrasound, which is sound under the ability of the human ear to hear,” is damaging to humans and marine life, Parker said.

She said she’s worked with people affected by infrasound in Falmouth and Bourne, as well as outside the U.S.

“I have experts who have staked their professional reputation on the fact that these are going to send infrasound to all of the Vineyard and Nantucket,” she said. “It’s going to scramble a lot of people’s brains.”

She said there was extensive research on infrasound, dating back to the 1970s.

“This is the first that I’ve heard that there’s research, and there’s some infrasound effect,” Nathaniel Mayo, manager of development and policy at Vineyard Wind, said.

Parker also said Vineyard Wind and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) have produced misleading elevation models that show the turbines will be barely visible or not visible in the horizon off the Vineyard. She said they will be.

“These turbines are 795 feet tall — 795 feet is taller than the Prudential Tower,” she said.

The Prudential Tower is 750 feet architecturally, or 920 feet including its antenna, according to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.

Mayo rebutted Parker’s assertion, and said the towers would be 691 feet tall.

“People around the world are watching this because this is a huge installation — the largest in the world,” Parker said.

Johnston said turbine commentary was “not necessarily jurisdictional to this discussion.”

Some discussion also took place about electromagnetic fields.

Johnston told the commission the cable is slated to be buried in the spring of 2021. “We’re hoping for a March start,” she said.

24 COMMENTS

  1. Just the burning of the lime to create the concrete produces nearly as much Co2 as the turbine will save in it’s life time. They last less than 20 years, kill thousands of birds a year, leake electricity into the ground that harms nature’s life. etc etc etc A city the height and size of NYC will be just off out coast. Nightmare that doubles grandpa’s electric bill.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rm5m-vdT0G8

        • Your more CO2 is bad argument failed so now you try more CO2 is good. Shall we go into what more CO2 in the atmosphere does? The greenhouse effect, it causes the contained atmosphere to heat quicker than life forms can evolve. As long as you’re now looking for benefits, try increased profits for the health industry from treating respiratory ailments created by more CO2.

          • The windmills in this case are purely a waste of everything including life.
            Windmills are great for rural power where none exists, usually for a farm, or they are the best for pumping water from deep wells.
            In this case they double or even triple electricity rates causing the fixed income elderly to choose between good healthy food, or being warm in the winter or cool with AC in summer. We all know your side is for population control and loves to see people die from your laws and projects. A heartbeat to the left is something that should be snuffed out prior to ever breathing earths air. So now you want to abort the seabirds. That is so 1984. If you question that the sick left wants population control, look up th Georgia Guide Stones. Your Gaia religion is right in line with them. #1, maintain earth’s population at under 500,000,000.
            Instead, we should fund space travel and the population of the moon or nearby planet if human population is too much for your…. taste. Or is it just too difficult for you to control 8 billion people? is that it? Enjoy your destruction of Vineyard sound and beyond for someones personal profit from/off of all of our taxes. Those windmills and their foundations will never leave the sea once they are placed. Marine hazards for life they are. 100% waste, fraud and abuse! I deary hope Edgartown board is smart enough to so NO. Not now and not ever.

          • MYOB : And about birds. If you believe humans have more right to use the beach at Norton Point than nesting birds or that walking dogs at Trade Winds is more important than preserving native Vineyard flora, then you don’t care about wind turbines where sea birds fly.

        • Cables already bring electricity to the Vineyard.

          Take a road trip across America. Can’t access storage facilities for spent nuclear fuel but visit active and depleted coal mines and the rivers around. That’s the planet we’re trying to avoid becoming.

          As for towers being marine hazards, flip through any National Geographic for articles involving drivers and check out the cool pictures. Marine life will likely treat the towers as reefs and thrive in the vicinity.

          • A nuclear power plant occupies about 20 acres + buffer. The spent fuel from a lifetime of use stacks neatly in safe containers that all fit on the size of a football field. The only expense is security.

          • Waste requires security, that should tell you something. As for “safe” containers, nothing man-made is 100% foolproof. Nothing.

          • Take a look at the foot print of a Solar Farm or your stupid wind farm. Wind works on sailboats, but to subsidize it through our tax and electric bills is straight from the communist left.

          • MYOB: Making government subsidizing the fossil fuel industry, which annually enjoys record profits, the baby of the self-professed free market right.

            Using renewable energy requires jobs for current and futures technologies.

            Using renewable energy leaves the environment cleaner which means the air and water won’t poison us and the food safe to eat. Added benefit, this should reduce the cost of health care and insurance.

            The “communist” left cares about health and jobs, leaving what for the political right to take pride in?

    • You are mistaken (otherwise no one would bother with wind turbines). You can check the math yourself. A 10MW Vestas V164 contains ~4000 tons of concrete and less than 2000 tons of steel. The embodied energy to produce that is ~2.7M kWh. In an offshore location with 30% capacity factor, the turbine produces around 72,000 kWh per day, for an energy payback of less than 6 weeks. After that it’s pure gravy, energetically speaking.

  2. Perhaps an interesting story would be how wind prospectors came to the island over a decade ago to start grooming island residents to accept “Vineyard Wind.” Looks like their plan was successful. If they hadn’t put all that time in convincing locals that this was some home grown “green solution” locals would be seeing this more for what it is – a gigantic multinational energy project that we’re essentially “green lighting” in our backyard, assuming it’s great because “Vineyard Wind.” People don’t know to ask the right questions. What I would suggest is follow the money and learn how the grid works.

    • Because if they came in the end of last month and slammed through the wind farm in 2 weeks, Islanders would have been fine with it. Uh huh. Grooming, as you put it, gives residents time to learn.

      • Learn what though? How much do islanders really understand about these projects? The grooming over these years works on false narratives, not reality.
        No one asks the right questions because they don’t understand contextually what is happening. Please follow the money, and try to understand the grid. It’s really easy to make assumptions about how green these projects are. We all want to believe these are solutions on the horizon, but in reality they are giant construction projects that will have extremely little net reduction of carbon.

        • The blackout of 1965 was because of relay switch problem in Lewiston NY. Since then, engineers have worked to keep anything like that from recurring. The result: the grid. It doesn’t matter the source of energy, energy is energy same once it enters the grid. As for “base load” suppliers, really there is no such thing. Any source can be subjected to enough demand to cause a brown or black out, even nuclear. But a surplus of generating sources (say, wind farms) may provide enough juice to keep a region from a repeating cycle of surges that disrupt the grid.

    • No more low flying aircraft to search for those lost at sea. Dead birds washing up for the kids to see. Hey sailor, take it hard to the lee! Some people just don’t know what it means to be free.
      The footprint is massive, the appearance it tragic, the greedy owners make money like magic.
      The tax payers suffer, burning the candle from both ends. Pay more on their bills and leave much less in their wills or pie for their sills.
      There is a sucker born every minute and right now we are in it, is our chance to decide and keep the oceans wide, save our hide.
      They want to take it all, close all the malls. No more mom and pop, no more small shop. You will buy it from them.
      They are the owners, loaners, zoners and cloners that try to keep us as slaves working the plantation of their chosen fate.
      … but it is never too late!
      Power costs less than .03 cents a KWH to make! They are simply on the take! Time for the people to awake! Get out from under their rake!
      EVEN THE CLOUDS ARE FAKE!

  3. Wow– reading over the comments here at 4:30 on the 15 th, it’s clear there are some heart felt opinions about this. Let me offer a few guidelines as to how to have a worthwhile discussion here.
    First, do a little research.
    second– please be aware that there are really gullible people here who might actually believe some of the totally off the wall assertions someone might make. If I said that zombies would crawl out of the turbines when the wind stopped, I think some people would believe it.
    third– don’t believe obviously inaccurate assertions .
    Fourth– if you are on prescribed psychotropic medications, please take them before you start commenting.

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