MVC approves subsurface connector cable

The commission additionally approved construction of a new helicopter hangar at MV Airport.

At its closest point, the New England Wind 1 undersea connector cable will be approximately one mile from Edgartown's shoreline.

The installation of undersea cables connecting the proposed Park City Wind offshore wind farm to a Barnstable substation was approved by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission on Thursday. 

The export cables, which will be buried under the Atlantic seabed, will transfer the electricity generated by the proposed Park City Wind, 19 miles off the Island’s coast.

The Park City Wind farm, still in its permitting phase, is the result of a collaboration between New England Wind and Avangrid Renewables, and is expected to generate around 800 megawatts of electricity for the ISO New England grid. 

This follows the 2019 MVC approval and subsequent permitting of Vineyard Wind 1, an offshore 62-turbine wind farm located 15 miles off the Island’s southeastern coast.

The New England Wind connector cables for the Park City Wind project will be installed via an undersea corridor, contiguous to that of the Vineyard Wind lease area.

The project will require widening the existing cable corridor about 985 feet, to a total of approximately 3,100 to 5,100 feet, “to provide flexibility in terms of routing the cable and avoiding sensitive habitat on the ocean floor,” and will pass through the Muskeget Channel, off Chappaquiddick.

The cables themselves are around 10 inches thick, and at its closest point, will be around one mile from Edgartown’s shoreline.

Commissioners expressed a few concerns about the project’s potential ecological impact, with Commissioner Trip Barnes advocating that the commission consider the proximity of the project to Chappy fishing waters. Barnes said it would be wise to legally “protect” the Vineyard and commission before approving the cable installation. 

Commission chair Joan Malkin made note that “the cable does not land on the Vineyard at all. It simply passes through our waters.” 

Commissioner Fred Hancock argued that the MVC would not necessarily need to consult legal reps regarding any potential liabilities. If there were to be “any problem with the transmission, [the company would] fix it,” he said, “or [the wind farm] is going to be sitting there useless.” 

Barnes disagreed. “Our job is to protect the Vineyard’s interest,” he said, “I think we should ask our counsel.”

Barnes subsequently entered a motion to vote whether to engage their attorney, and mentioned perhaps conditioning the project to ensure the Island could not be held financially responsible for any mishaps resulting from the electrical cables. 

“If something goes wrong, we’re not protected,” he reiterated, suggesting that Park City Wind should “post a bond for any [potential] damage that is created when the cables [are installed].” Commissioner Christina Brown seconded the motion, and resulted in a 3-7-3 vote, ultimately rejecting Barnes’ suggestion.

The commission proceeded to unanimously approve the proposal, with the exception of Barnes, who abstained. 

In other wind farm-related business, the commission approved a proposal from Vineyard Wind to demolish an existing M.V. Airport hangar — utilized as storage space currently — and replace it with a slightly larger structure, totaling around 9,000 square feet. 

The new construction will store one helicopter, and facilitate easier access to Vineyard Wind 1’s offshore wind farm, allowing for air-delivered maintenance and technical support. Vineyard Wind 1 is slated to become operational next year. 


    • Albert– While I certainly cannot answer that question conclusively because you never really know what a whale will do, I am sure that every single whale that digs through the 5- 8 ft of seabed that the cables are buried under and bites through the cable will be electrocuted.
      Given that reality, I decided to attempt to calculate the actual number of whales that will meet this horrible fate.
      I of course started with local historical data going back to since they put undersea cables from the mainland to the Vineyard.
      To date there have been zero whales that have been electrocuted in Vineyard waters.
      But I understand that is not a very large database, and should not be taken as an indicator of of any future electrocutions of whales.
      So I looked at all the available data that has been recorded from around the entire planet on this serious and dangerous topic since the first undersea cable was simply laid on the ocean floor more than a century ago.
      Inexplicably, there is not a single case of a whale being electrocuted anywhere in the world. EVER
      There must be a coverup.
      Either that, or the answer to your simple question is “none”.
      And before Trip gets in here with his “toaster in a bathtub” analogy; even if the cable breaks, the answer is still “none”
      I hope the people who are worried about this particular threat to the whales can sleep better now.

      • Don… the residents of MV are keenly aware of the high probability of an innocent whale being electrocuted by an underwater electric cable. After all didn’t you see Jaws 2 where the massive shark met it’s demise only after our hero sheriff Brody made him or her choke on that electric cable that just floats a few feet underwater. But I thank you for your research but I’ll stick with mine.

        • Carl– no I didn’t see Jaws 2 — but I just watched the death scene from it.. Great scene. Thanks for the suggestion.
          But I have to wonder how many of the cables coming to the vineyard are floating on buoys just a few feet under water, and why the sheriff was fine holding on to it while the shark approached.
          And then, after the shark compromised the cable, why was it that only the shark was electrocuted and not the sheriff? ( Trip Barnes take notice)
          And besides, it was a shark, not a whale.
          I spent 6 months in electrical school in the navy.
          Nope– nothing we are talking about is possible.
          So you are going to stick with yours ?
          Your what ?
          Do you actually think some whales will be electrocuted as a result of this cable ?
          It seems we are in agreement about one thing. Large aquatic animals or fish or reptiles or what ever should not bite electrical cables.
          But I have to say Carl, I appreciate the sarcasm
          Or the humor, or whatever it is–

          • Lol, I think It could be both sarcasm and humor? Not sure myself. Too funny. I do think there are some people who think looking at a Hollywood movie counts as research. I’m not one of them. But I couldn’t let the Jaws analogy go. It was too good.

    • How many are electrocuted now? Given we already have electric cables running from the mainland to the island.

  1. Interesting this project to save the environment will now destroy a hanger and build a new 9,000 sq ft hanger to be used for a helicopter to do multiple day runs out to the wind farm. How much of a carbon footprint in the air will this bring? Most helicopters still run on lead fuel which is another great item in the air for us. Lastly the neighbors will be able to tell when they take off and land. But not to worry the wind farm makes some feel good.

  2. Bob– thanks for that true fact about leaded gas in helicopters. I did not know about that.
    But let me put your concern into perspective– a helicopter the size of the ones that will be used for this project use about 14 gallons of fuel per hour of operation — I am rounding to the higher end– it could be as low as 6.
    So let’s compare that with the high powered pleasure boats, like cigarette boats that regularly cruise around strictly for pleasure. I’m sure you have heard them.
    I was shocked when I looked up the gallons per hour of fuel consumption. A relatively small 150 hp outboard motor uses 14 gallons per hour of operation.
    A 600 hp outboard uses an incredible 51 gph– strictly for pleasure…
    And you are worried about a helicopter facilitating a project that will provide power to tens of thousands of homes ?

    As far as the hanger goesl some things need to be upgraded and replaced occasionally.
    Since you are focused on whataboutism, Let me resort to it also and point out that perfectly good homes are torn down to build trophy houses that exceed 9,000 sq ft all the time on this island.
    I’m also sure the neighbors know when private jets fly in and out of the airport.
    My girlfriend’s house is near the flight path going out . The one good thing about the private jets coming and going is that they sometimes drown out the leaf blowers in the neighborhood.
    So whataboutism works both ways.
    As far as some people feeling good about the windfarms, it goes a little further than that.
    A single revolution of one of these windmills produces enough juice to power 2 average homes for a full day without any air pollution at all. I’m sure you appreciate that, as you seem to be concerned about air pollution.
    And who knows when we will develop the technology to have electric helicopters running on the electricity these windfarms produce.
    It’s just a matter of scale– drones do not fly on leaded gas. There is no reason to think that future drones capable of carrying whatever it is that today’s helicopters do are in the not so distant future.

  3. The are so many unanswered questions that no one is asking. Does anyone know how loud these helicopters are that will be flying 300 days a year? What is their flight path. Will they be flying all over the Island or only over the same houses all day long? What is the decibel rating at ground level? How big is this helicopter? What is the exact make and model of these helicopters so we can better understand the affect this noise will have? I would assume it is not your average small 2 or 4 seater. Does this helicopter only carry passengers or is it a very large and loud helicopter that can also carry cargo? Will there be multiple helicopters? Helicopters are generally VERY, VERY, LOUD. I would also assume this helicopter is much louder than jet planes. What are the hours they can fly? Will they be flying at 3am? Can they fly these helicopters 24 hours/7 days a week? Are weekends no fly days? The article states only the FAA has any say on noise abatement WHY? Why is there no limit on the number of flights per day? The article also states the MVC has no say in the number of flights per day. WHY? The MVC asked none of these obvious questions WHY?

    • Kirk– some of your questions are good– some are easy to answer.
      The FAA sets maximum noise levels.
      The airport sets operating hours
      “The air traffic control tower is open from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm from May 15 – October 31, and from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm from November 1 to May 14.”
      I doubt it can fly without clearance from the control tower.
      I could be wrong, but I would be surprised.
      It seems like they will have one helicopter , likely a Leonardo AW 169– the industry standard . It can carry 9 people including the pilot. Standard medivac helicopter carries 4

      You don’t need to wait for someone else to ask questions about things you are concerned about.
      You can probably talk to a human in Vineyard wind’s public relations department and get all the answers to most if not all your questions.
      Here is their web site, which has contact information, including a phone # and e mail address.
      If you do contact them , please take the time to let us know what you find out. I would be happy to read whatever you write.

  4. They will be flying from the airport to the wind turbines.
    Unlike airplanes helicopters can stay high until right over the airport.
    No matter where based the helicopters will fly over the Island.

    The production of electricity for the Island should be kept out of sight and earshot?
    Leave that crap to the huddled masses on the mainland?

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