The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has published a final environmental impact statement (EIS) for Vineyard Wind 1, America’s first industrial-scale offshore wind farm, which is planned for a leased area of the Atlantic about 15 miles south of Aquinnah. The publication puts the wind project one step away from federal approval.
“We want to thank BOEM for all of the work they’ve done since we submitted the permit application in December of 2017 on this first-in-the-nation project,” Vineyard Wind CEO Lars Pedersen said through a release. “More than three years of federal review and public comment is nearing its conclusion, and 2021 is poised to be a momentous year for our project and the broader offshore wind industry. Offshore wind is a historic opportunity to build a new industry that will lead to the creation of thousands of jobs, reduce electricity rates for consumers, and contribute significantly to limiting the impacts of climate change. We look forward to reaching the final step in the federal permitting process and being able to launch an industry that has such tremendous potential for economic development in communities up and down the Eastern Seaboard.”
Vineyard Wind, the wind energy company behind Vineyard Wind 1, took a time-out from the federal permitting process in the waning days of the Trump Administration. That put the EIS process in limbo.
The reason given for effectively going into hibernation was that more time was needed to conduct an internal technical review of the project. One specific aspect of that review was new GE turbines. The project will feature 62 GE Haliade-X turbines, and is anticipated to have an overall cost of just over $2 billion. The 62 turbines are meant to generate 800 megawatts of electricity that will be sent through two export cables buried under the Atlantic seabed. The cables will pass through the Muskeget Channel off Chappaquiddick, and stretch across Nantucket Sound to a landfall at Barnstable, where they can send electricity into the grid. Edgartown’s conservation commission butted heads with Vineyard Wind over the cables, but eventually reached a settlement.
The company re-entered the permitting process in late January, after President Joseph Biden was inaugurated. At a Jan. 25 press conference, Pedersen dismissed any notion his company took a time-out to avoid end-of-term meddling from the Trump Administration. He noted Vineyard Wind had been “in detailed contact with the two campaigns prior to the election,” and did not indicate there was any ulterior motive for pulling out of the permitting process.
Vineyard WInd spokesperson Andrew Doba told The Times the last leg of the permitting process is the issuance of the record of decision. Doba said BOEM hasn’t forecast a date yet for that.