The Martha’s Vineyard Commission held a public hearing Thursday evening regarding the proposed construction of a maintenance building to facilitate work on Vineyard Wind 1.
The proposed Vineyard Wind maintenance building, which will be located at 69 Beach Road, is a considerable undertaking for Tisbury based-construction company Sourati Engineering Group LLC, with plans for a 36,000-square-foot combined office, storage, and parking structure.
The offshore substation and wind farm with 62 General Electric Haliade-X turbines, Vineyard Wind 1, will be located 15 miles south of the Island coast, and will be instrumental in providing clean energy to over 400,000 homes — “an equivalent of removing 325,000 vehicles from the roadways,” according to Vineyard Wind’s mission statement.
Vineyard Wind 1 will be capable of generating and transferring a total of 800 megawatts each year via substation collection.
The building will be raised to feature a ground-level, open parking lot, allowing storm water from the coast to flow underneath the building, which is located within a FEMA velocity flood zone. Per zoning compliance, the property will allow for flowing storm water to be contained to prevent flooding abutters by increasing permeability of the site.
Building designer and property owner Sam Dunn referred to the building as having “the shape of the future,” with longevity of about 65 years, and capable of withstanding storm surges.
Dunn said efforts were made in the design process to align with Vineyard vernacular and aesthetic. The property will include a “fragmentation” of the building in order to avoid a “box” look from the road.
The 36-foot-tall building will feature solar panels on a galvanized metal rooftop, and a wood panel and Hardie board exterior, and will serve as a “headquarters building for Vineyard Wind operations.”
Commissioners raised concerns about the design plans, with some applicant-provided renderings lacking accuracy, in addition to landscaping issues, and questioned if there will be enough room for truck traffic.
Further, the commission took note that the proposed building size seemed to have increased. Operations and maintenance preparations engineering consultant Sarah Schweitzer told the commission that the building was meant to be even bigger, but was limited.
Commissioner Ben Robinson questioned the size. “I couldn’t really tell if there was further space added,” Robinson said about the presented plans, or “everything just got incrementally a little larger.”
Compared to other wind farm operation facilities, Schweitzer said, “this is the smallest operations facility that will be developed.”
“It’s always easier to go bigger if you have an opportunity to go bigger,” Robinson said, on the apparent changes, and questioned the efficiency of the space.
“It’s not 100 percent efficient,” said Dunn, noting that the fragmented building serves to be aesthetic.
Referring to previous plans that were provided to the commission, MVC chair Joan Malkin questioned why that is, adding, “The plans have changed, they don’t look nearly as nice.”
Vineyard Wind 1 LLC cited plans to “make available on-Island market-rate rental housing to any worker who needs it,” per its proposal submitted to the MVC, and expects to employ only Island residents by year five of operations.
According to Schweitzer, Vineyard Wind 1 is set to begin delivering electricity by the fall of 2023. On the approval of the maintenance building construction, she told the commission that “it’s critical to have this facility up and running in alignment with that timeline.”
The public hearing will be continued at the July 7 commision meeting.