Vineyard Wind 1 is a go

Vineyard Wind, which will use GE Haliade X turbines shown here, has been given federal approval. -Courtesy GE website

Updated 5 pm

The federal government gave the greenlight to the Vineyard WInd 1 offshore wind farm on Tuesday, a decision that allows mobilization and construction processes to begin. The news was released by the U.S. Department of the Interior Tuesday morning. 

“Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo today announced approval of the construction and operation of the Vineyard Wind project — the first large-scale, offshore wind project in the United States,” the release states. “The Secretaries were joined in the announcement by labor leaders who have been working to ensure that the project is built and maintained by union labor.”

The wind farm itself will feature 62 GE Haliade-X turbines, and is expected to have an overall cost of approximately $2 billion. The 62 turbines will produce 800 megawatts of electricity. That electricity will be sent through two export cables buried under the Atlantic seafloor. The cables will pass through the Muskeget Channel, about a mile off Chappaquiddick, and stretch across Nantucket Sound to a landfall at Barnstable, where they will send electricity into the grid. Edgartown’s conservation commission clashed with Vineyard Wind over the cables, but eventually reached a settlement

“A clean energy future is within our grasp in the United States,” Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said through the release. “The approval of this project is an important step toward advancing the administration’s goals to create good-paying union jobs while combating climate change and powering our nation.”

“Today’s offshore wind project announcement demonstrates that we can fight the climate crisis, while creating high-paying jobs and strengthening our competitiveness at home and abroad,” Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said through a release. “This project is an example of the investments we need to achieve the Biden-Harris administration’s ambitious climate goals, and I’m proud to be part of the team leading the charge on offshore wind.” 

Vineyard Wind CEO Lars Pedersen characterized Tuesday’s news as the launch of an entire industry. “Today’s Record of Decision is not about the start of a single project, but the launch of a new industry,” Pedersen said through a release. “Receiving this final major federal approval means the jobs, economic benefits, and clean energy revolution associated with the Vineyard Wind 1 project can finally come to fruition. It’s been a long road to get to this point, but ultimately, we are reaching the end of this process with the strongest possible project.”

In a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Pedersen fielded questions from The Times about how Tuesday’s decision would advance the proposed operations and maintenance facility in Vineyard Haven, and what it will do for New Bedford’s economic prospects.

Pedersen said the facility is in its final stage of permitting. “On Martha’s Vineyard we are moving this forward, and we’ll be looking forward to the day when we can actually contribute to the working waterfront with a lot of high-skilled jobs on the Island,” he said. “That’s going to be a great day for us.”

Some of the high-skilled jobs Pedersen spoke of stem from a program run by ACE MV. 

Overall the Vineyard 1 wind farm is expected to generate numerous jobs, including on the Vineyard, with an operations and maintenance facility planned in Vineyard Haven that is expected to employ a number of homegrown wind farm technicians. ACE MV is training those technicians. 

In an email to The Times, ACE MV executive director Holly Bellebuono described today’s news as promising.

“ACE MV is excited about the Vineyard Wind approval, as this will not only provide jobs for Martha’s Vineyard residents but it especially signals a commitment for renewable energy within our region, which is badly needed,” Bellebuono wrote. “Because ACE MV’s mission is to provide learning opportunities for Vineyard residents — especially to provide workforce education — this approval is a welcome announcement. We will continue working with Bristol Community College (with funding through the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center) to deliver our offshore wind turbine technician certificate. One of ACE MV’s values is to support renewable energy efforts, providing workforce programming that is ecologically friendly and advances the Vineyard’s environmental health.”

Ralph Packer, who owns the Tisbury Marine Terminal on Beach Road where the operations and maintenance facility is planned, told The Times Wednesday two Massachusetts agencies have recently set back the project. Packer said plans for the facility were submitted to the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

“Their response was it’s not permitted under state regulations for Vineyard Haven Harbor,” Packer said. “That’s where we stand right now.”

Packer said another proposal is being submitted to those agencies. He added Vineyard Haven is an advantageous location for the facility.

“There’s deep water, we’re 25 miles nearer to the wind turbines, and the vessels they want to use are very capable of passing through Muskeget Channel. So we are a very good spot for them, and we are very much compassionate to renewable energy.”

MassDEP and the Office of Coastal Zone Management couldn’t immediately be reached to confirm the permitting denial.

Asked if he sensed a political problem at work, Packer said, “We live in Massachusetts, don’t we?”

He described the decision to allow Vineyard Wind 1 to move forward as “very exciting.”

In an email to The Times, Martha’s Vineyard Commission chair Joan Malkin wrote the MVC’s goals align with Vineyard Wind.“The federal approval of Vineyard Wind’s offshore wind project is a huge plus for the Island,” Malkin wrote. “The commission has consistently supported Vineyard Wind, having approved its cable project a few years ago, and, more recently, having written to BOEM underscoring the project’s significance and seeking its approval. Vineyard Wind’s goals of delivering renewable wind energy to Massachusetts and beyond are consistent with the commission’s initiatives on climate change mitigation, specifically the MVC’s Climate Action Task Force’s efforts to reduce fossil fuel consumption on the Island and the recently adopted Energy Policy, which emphasizes all-electric energy for DRIs and the use of renewable energy where feasible. This is a win for all, but it is especially meaningful for the Vineyard.”

Pedersen said New Bedford is now poised to be a hub of assembly activity.

“We will assemble the turbines in New Bedford,” Pedersen said. “And you will also see a number of the other pieces of this [project] using the Port of New Bedford. So I would assume starting in ’22, you will start seeing significant offshore-wind-related activities there.”

Pedersen went on to say that with construction of the turbines expected in 2023, a phase called “marshaling” will occur, which he described as “getting the subcomponents in for the turbines,” assembling them on shore, and shipping them offshore to be installed.

“You will see the commercial terminal be very, very busy in New Bedford,” he said.

Long a critic of industrial-scale offshore wind on behalf of fishermen, the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance (RODA) issued a statement following the decision Tuesday. Among other issues RODA mentioned was the long-argued subject of spacing between wind turbines for the passage of vessels. 

“The proposed mitigation measure of spacing the turbines 1×1 nautical miles apart on its own is insufficient to ensure safety at sea for all types of fishermen and other seagoing vessels,” RODA stated. “While many fishermen supported the 1×1 nautical mile uniformity on an east-west orientation for the Vineyard Wind project over its original layout proposal, the process of soliciting and evaluating alternatives was and remains wholly flawed. We strongly oppose [the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)] approach of giving greater credence to commenters without the relevant expertise in marine operations over the fishing industry’s expert testimony regarding safety. We do not know, nor were fishermen asked, the safety and operating impacts of this spacing across the entire coast. Instead of learning from fishermen’s experience, BOEM now rewards those who ignore traditional knowledge and shoehorn data into predetermined outcomes based on political preference or financial goals.”

In response to a press question in January, Pedersen said in part on the subject, “[The] Coast Guard did an very elaborate study on that, and they concluded that you could both fish, navigate, and do safe search and rescue within such a proposal, so I think we have made significant accommodations, and I think once we start building these projects, I’m quite sure we will see that commercial fisheries and offshore wind can coexist, which is ultimately our goal.”

Updated with more local reaction.


  1. It’s a little unnerving that Vineyard Wind CEO Lars Pedersen did not mention the local community in his quote when he thanked every other level. Hopefully this won’t prove to be a premonition of lack of empathy if things don’t go as planned.

  2. They will have a very difficult time getting the financing since the return on investment is weak. Let them issue us a Capital budget proposal with Return on Equity or Return on Investment. Has anyone seen it and is it open to the public. It doesnt have to be if it is a private entity but people ought to know what the internal docs show on the costof the project. Putting 62 turbines 12 miles out in the ocean is a huge cost.

  3. Great so my already expensive electricity is going up even more to subsidize this horrendous feel good monstrosity.


    • Trip– I have replied many times to your shouting. There are plenty of answers to your “hard” questions Please do some research, and you will find out about the liabilities that are in the contracts. You will also find that fish will not be fried if there is a break in the line. This is not a toaster in the bathtub kind of situation. There are laws of physics at play here, as well as circuit breakers built into the systems . As I mentioned a while ago in reply to this same concern from you, we have 3 underwater cables supplying electricity to the Vineyard They have been breached at least twice in the last 30 years. No fish died.
      If you are concerned about fish being electrocuted, pray to the god of your choice that no lightning bolts strike the ocean .
      Posting in all caps does not make your comment more valid.
      I appreciate your concerns and respect that you take the time to express them.
      Thank you–

    • Trippy, sea bed power transmission lines are proven technology.
      That is how Chappy gets is power.
      Have you checked out the bonds on that cable?
      How about the one’s from mainland to the Vineyard, Nantucket, Naushon and Cuttyhunk?

  5. Between Obama designating 4000 sq ft off the Vineyard as a National Monument at Georges Bank and now a company from Norway building the first and largest ocean based wind farm in the country. Who cares that it will no doubt kill birds,impact the ocean floor and hurt our islands fishing industry after barely recovering from Covid. Hasn’t this island given enough already? Our kids can’t find places to live, they’ll never afford a home here and now in the interest of being “green” their livelihoods as fishermen, resellers etc is now is also at risk. Am I the only parent who is sick to death of this? Haters save your two cents! I don’t waste my time arguing with anyone who works against our kids.

    • Which American companies have more experience in offshore wind than Norway?
      By Norwegian standards Vineyard Wind is a small project.
      They have thirty years experience.
      What does the Island have to give for this project?
      Hydrocarbon plants and transmission lines kill birds
      How many pounds of fish do Vineyard fishing boats land from the Vineyard Wind Area?
      Maybe enough to support five people, maybe not?
      If the price of electricity goes up it will slow the growth in housing prices.

      Vineyard Wind will generate a significant number of well paying construction jobs and there will on going maintenance. Jobs for vineyard kids.

      Dragging is not green.

      Save The Children, save all the freaking children.

      “#SaveTheChildren is pulling American moms into QAnon”

    • A real estate agent who mostly helps rich tourists purchase 2nd, 3rd and 4th homes pointing to an offshore wind project as the why locals can’t find affordable housing is laughable.

  6. “If they ban smoking in restaurants, not a single restaurant will be able to stay open”
    “If they ban smoking in bars, not a single bar will be able to stay open”
    “If they legalize same sex marriage, marriage will cease to exist” ????
    “If they put that roundabout in near the high school they will have to put an emergency medical clinic in the middle of it to handle the number of injuries caused by it.”
    “If Obama is elected president, he will impose Sharia law in the united states.”
    “If Biden is elected president , the stock market will immediately crash. ”

    Relax, people– the sky will not fall.

    • I forgot to mention:
      If they allow alcohol in restaurants in V.H—-
      If they legalize marijuana —-
      If we elect Obama, he will take our guns—
      They want to limit you to one hamburger a month.
      The “socialist” want to—-
      And on and on with the fearmongering..

  7. Where is the transparency on the research regarding the effects on our ocean ecosystems, Why did our environmental regulators and NMFS sign off on this global scale wind farm in our back yard, Chappaquiddick. Why is our beautiful island and US government relinquishing protection of our ocean. I have great concerns about what this is going to do to our ocean and our Island. Why is the Martha’s Vineyard Fisherman’s Preservation Trust not making any comments regarding all the concerns to our fisheries?

    • Susan– Beginning with cape wind decades ago, the transparency has been there for all to see.
      it has been reviewed and reviewed again and again. there has been input from all parties concerned for years. it has been thoroughly debated and debated and researched and studied again and again and again. And then researched and studied and debated a few more times.
      Our Island has no jurisdiction in federal waters. The winds here are stronger and more consistent than anywhere on the eastern seaboard. This project is close to millions of people who seem to want to use a lot of electricity.
      That is why it is happening in your back yard. Projects such as this have already been denied in other people’s back yards.
      And just so you can sleep better, I can assure you that Chappaquiddick will not be affected in any way.
      I don’t know if you look at the reports of air quality over Chappaquiddick, but the air quality improved dramatically when the Bryant Point coal burning plant was shut down.
      It produced about twice the amount of energy that Vineyard wind will produce.
      Unless you and I want to sit in the dark, we need to produce electricity from something somewhere.
      Any suggestions ?

    • There is no shortage of research, the Europeans put up wind farms of this scale thirty years ago.
      “in our back yard, Chappaquiddick” (Happy on Chappy), would you have a problem with this project if it were off Fall River, where poor people live.

      Were you concerned when they put in power cables to the Vineyard and Nantucket?

      How many pounds of fish from the Vineyard Wind area were landed on the Island last year? Does the Martha’s Vineyard Fisherman’s Preservation Trust have any idea?
      Vineyard Wind has already increased the turbine spacing to well beyond European standards. The Europeans still catch lots of fish in there offshore windfarms.
      Seafloor structures increase fish propagation, we sink old ships for that purpose.

      Are you a Happy Nimby, on Chappy?

  8. My suggestions, lets put solar panels on every home, we all need roofs, why not solar too? Electric cars and environmentally friendly public transportation is also a good idea. Vineyard wind is currently fixing exposed cables off of Block Island after only a few years after installation and it is a much smaller scale, then what is planned off of my home Chappaquiddick. Please review concerns expressed by woods hole oceanographic regarding squid migration. You saying it will not impact the fisheries is bogus, there is not enough research. Suggest some articles of research to help us island fishermen better understand the concerns we have.

    • Susan– look carefully at my comments– I have never said these will not impact the fisheries.
      They will undoubtedly have some negative impacts– But it is equally certain that some species will benefit.
      My opinion is based on looking at the data. There are many off shore windfarms in the world,
      The continued wanton burning of fossil fuels is orders of magnitude more dangerous to wildlife than wind farms. The concerns of everyone involved are not “bogus”. I am not belittling anyone when i say that some of them are valid concerns, Some are just fears that have no basis in reality.

  9. I don’t know seems like Mr. Keller must have a financial stake in Vineyard Wind the way he vigorously defends it.

    • Capt Bob– I don’t have a financial stake in Vineyard wind– I have grandchildren.
      You know, there are more things to consider than just money.

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