Developers of an offshore wind facility are suing the Edgartown conservation commission for denying the installation of cables within Edgartown’s offshore waters.
Park City Wind has filed a complaint in Dukes County Superior Court, stating the commission’s denial threatens the entire project.
In a presentation to the conservation commission last year, Park City Wind LLC representatives outlined the scope of their proposed project, which involves the installation of two export cables under the Atlantic seabed that will connect the offshore wind facility to Barnstable’s electrical grid.
The cables are to be installed via an undersea corridor contiguous to that of the Vineyard Wind lease area, and will pass through the Muskeget Channel, off Chappaquiddick. Subsurface construction will require widening the existing cable corridor about 985 feet, to a total of approximately 3,100 to 5,100 feet.
The Park City Wind facility is expected to generate around 800 megawatts and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 1.5 million tons annually, developers say. The goal is to replace energy generated by existing power plants that will likely be retired within the next decade.
Despite its September approval from the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, the project hit a roadblock in January when it was denied in a unanimous vote by Edgartown conservation commissioners, who cited concerns about the impact the project could have on the health of marine life and protected wetland areas.
This is the second time the Edgartown conservation commission voted to deny cable installations for an offshore wind facility. In 2019, the commission rejected a proposal from Vineyard Wind to bury two 400-megawatt export cables in town waters. That decision was later overturned by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. Park City Wind is seeking a similar outcome.
In its recent filings with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, the Edgartown conservation commission states that the areas in which the Park City Wind cable installation is proposed are “significant” in terms of the protection of wildlife habitat, fisheries, and land containing shellfish.
Per the minutes of a conservation commission meeting in January, “Commissioners discussed the cables to be installed, and that there will be more and there will be more cables as more areas open up for leases … While the [Martha’s Vineyard Commission] decided that the project will overall have a positive impact, the [Edgartown conservation] commission’s job is to consider the impact to the resource, rather than the overall impact.”
Additionally, the conservation commission referred to possible debris movement on the seafloor. Commissioners say Park City Wind “did not accurately represent the scope” of the impacts from the debris. Per the commission’s denial, “the information submitted by the applicant is not sufficient to describe the site, the work [and] the effect of the work” regarding Wetlands Protection Act regulations.
But in the complaint filed by Park City Wind LLC in Dukes County Superior Court last month, developers took issue with the fact that the commission’s denial partially relied on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA), which allows for a percentage of unintentional injury or disturbance to marine life. Commissioners had expressed concern about what that would mean for wildlife in nearby waters, particularly the impacts to the greatly endangered North Atlantic right whale.
“The commission’s statement about the purported authorization to ‘take up to nearly 10 percent of the existing stock’ suggests the commission erroneously believed that Park City Wind was authorized to injure or even kill marine mammals,” the wind facility states in their suit.
The relevant IHA regulations do “not include activities with ‘the potential to injure a marine mammal or [stock] in the wild,” Park City argues; however, the project does have “the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns.”
In their filings, Park City includes April 2022 general determinations by the Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife that Park City’s proposed project won’t adversely affect “the resource area habitat of state-protected rare wildlife species,” and “will not result in a prohibited take of state-listed rare species.”
Park City claims that the rejection of their request to install the segments of the cables under Edgartown waters has the potential to halt the project.
“The wind turbines and most of the related offshore transmission cables will be located in federal waters, or in towns other than Edgartown,” Park City Wind states. “Disallowance of even the small portion of the offshore cables passing beneath Edgartown waters prevents construction of the entire project.”
Kudos to the Edgartown Conservation Commission for standing up against this huge multi-national energy company looking to put profits in front of environmental concerns.
Environmental concerns like the the waste products form digging black goo out of the ground and lighting it on fire?
Does the company you own/work for make a profit?
Are they local yokels or do they have the business acumen to be successful on the world stage?
Is the car you drive made by a multi-national company?
Are you certain that they are All yokels?
John– If only the Edgartown Conservation Commission stood up to every huge multinational energy company looking to put profits in front of environmental concerns.
Do you think they should impede the sale of petro products on island from the worst offenders ?
Some huge multinational energy companies looking to put profits in front of environmental concerns are worse than others you know.
Would you care to guess which companies are the worst offenders ?
Spoiler alert– it’s not Vineyard wind–
Developers should easily win at an adjudicatory hearing at the DEP level. No energy source is perfect but wind is surely better for the environment than oil, gas, or nuclear power generation.
Why? Please give details.
Radiation and combustion byproducts come to mind
Not to mention the messiness of dragging hydrocarbons out of the earth.
The whales and marine life suffer from this…. not that you or anyone else cares about that…. pretty sad ….
Got any actual proof? Proof would be a peer reviewed study.
Is you response data or emotion driven?
pretty sad that you don’t care about any creature that is affected by climate change.
I also commend Edgartown Conservation for putting the island’s ecological, maritime, wildlife and resident concerns ahead of the untested commodity of a wind farm of this scale in our island waters. In neighboring New Jersey there are several examples of the damage the vibrations these cables can have on the whale population. Let an island in Park City’s home be the testing ground. Being a Guinea pig for Vineyard Wind is enough for us right now thank you very much.
I concur…. let them do it there…. the whales suffer from this….
Dollores– Are you and Jean saying that you couldn’t care less about the whales after they swim past our island ?
it’s fine if they die in New Jersey ?
Not that they will, unless of course they get hit by a speeding ship.
Jean, “vibrating cables” have been bringing hydrocarbon generated power to the Island for decades, should they be removed because of the harm they do to whales?
Energy harvested from the wind by means of the industrialization and desecration of the Continental Shelf will lead to the need for more fossil fuels and for more nuclear power plants.
Can you spell b-a-s-e-l-o-a-d?
Furthermore there is mounting evidence that harvesting the energy from the wind affects weather patterns.
https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2018/10/large-scale-wind-power-has-its-down-side/ (citing articles in “Joule” and “Environmental Research Letters”).
Uh-oh, also increases temps on the ground.
“This research suggests that not only will wind farms require more land to hit the proposed renewable energy targets but also, at such a large scale, would become an active player in the climate system.”
Oh dear, oh dear, there is so much we don’t know. But we do know this: “The direct climate impacts of wind power [such as changed weather patterns] are instant, while the benefits of reduced emissions accumulate slowly.”
If ever. There do not seem to be any peer-reviewed journal articles providing evidence of the latter. The time frame is too long for there to be any evidence.
But don’t worry! It’s all good! Our leaders are sure that “halting climate change” is doable and that myriad ecosystems can survive and even “benefit” in spite of their short-term destruction. If a few right whales are “taken” in the process, or die out because their foraging grounds have been industrialized, most certainly they willingly sacrifice their reproductive success and their lives to stop climate change.
There must be no more wind or solar, they are ugly.
The Island should be powered by beautiful coal or nuclear power plants, on Island.
No more vibrating cables killing whales.
How many years have near shore windfarms been operating in Europe?
The “Guinea pigs (sic)” are alive and well.
There are no examples that the “vibrations” ( what does that mean?) that these cables produce have had, or could have any significant future impact on the whale populations, or even their behavior.
If anyone can produce some verifiable evidence of “examples” of any activity of offshore wind development that harms whales that are from a credible source, please post them on this site.
I have already read the hysterical procrastinations of ignorant people who have chosen to believe the propaganda generated by the oil companies.
I am not trying to use the word “ignorant” in a derogatory manner. We are all ignorant about some things. I for example have no idea of how a cricket game is scored, or even what a wicket is– so I don’t go on sports sites and suggest what the managers and coaches should do.
I put an appeal out here for anyone commenting about this project and any offshore wind projects,for that matter, to please make at least a minimal effort to understand a minimum amount of facts.
I am open to criticism, rational debate and being proven wrong. If someone can show me actual credible scientifically based peer reviewed studies that even 10% of the right whale population would suffer ANY–ANY injuries ( as it seems some conservation commissioners think) as a result of the ENTIRE offshore wind industry ,I will certainly change my mind and vigorously oppose the entire offshore wind industry.
I will admit, I am nearly hopelessly entrenched in the belief that offshore energy generation is a better alternative than the options. But I am willing to advocate for changes to the existing plans if there is any chance that they will protect marine mammals .
The comments from National Marine Fisheries Service to BOEM regarding the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for SouthCoast Wind will answer all your questions. You can find them here:https://www.regulations.gov/comment/BOEM-2023-0011-0185
Note: NMFS role is protect the ocean, BOEM’s role is to lease it and make money from it.
Okay, I’ll take that action. Here’s the criticism.
Let’s start with high school science class. The electrical power that serves our homes and businesses alternates at 60Hz, which means, the magnetic and electrostatic fields surrounding the cable also alternate at 60Hz. Now, consider the fact that sea water is readily conductive, which means ions of many sorts floating in it can easily become charged, and remember that a charged particle moving in a magnetic field experiences a physical force. Alternate that physical force 60 times per second, and it becomes a vibration.
Something similar but simpler occurs when the clamps holding the cable down are made of ferrous metals. These are not revelations, Don, they’re facts of science known to every electrical engineer and automotive bass box enthusiast for a very long time.
A 60Hz vibration is a much bigger deal to a whale than it is to us. Nobody speaks that low, and relatively few singers can get that low. Also, we’ve become desensitized to it, through decades of exposure: I can’t even tell you how many times someone’s complained to me about their stereo, and I’ve found 60Hz hum leaking into it from an ungrounded source. Clear that up, and they’re stunned at how much better the same equipment sounds.
Now, the affirmation: yes, you’re almost hopelessly entrenched in your side, in exactly the same manner and to exactly the same degree as the other side. Proof of the grade you specify, is the same grade of proof they’re asking for. To demand it from them, while refusing it to them, is not making you look any more rational than they do.
Moving on, though, I’ll admit that I don’t prioritize whales as a concern over any other. The one that’s bothering me, is that nobody has a clue why ocean currents shift the way they do, and we’ve already lost much of East Beach and Wasque Point, for reasons unknown. Messing around with ANYTHING in the area strikes me as ill advised, unless one simply does not care whether the Martha’s Vineyard landmass remains, which, the power company wouldn’t.
Let’s not forget the value the Wampanoag place on that view. Here we are, centuries later, and still it does not cross our minds that their concerns are not the same as ours, and yet, somehow we still feel like ours are more important.
How little we’ve changed. Especially the ones who believe they’ve changed the most.
How many whales have the vibrating cables that have brought power to the Island for decades killed
Don, are you picking up good vibrations, feeling the excitations.
Good job Edgartown Conservation, I really hope you win. I have never cherished the thought of seeing hundreds of night time blinking red lights in the ocean from these gigantic structures. Put them somewhere else.
We are just starting to get a taste of what’s to come, try sitting outside at the Net Results, for a quiet lunch break, it does not exist anymore. The sound of construction has taken over. The size of the structure that they are building just does not seem to fit the character of the area.
What are we doing to ourselves?
Not to mention the fact that there is substantial evidence that nocturnal blinking red lights cause seizure activity in aquatic birds. There will be countless carcasses littering the ocean near these structure. Many will reach shore.
Klaus– come on– we have enough real stuff to talk about.
Like zombies climbing up the towers and shooting their spidey webs to catch passing planes and devouring the occupants.
I noticed in the regulatory requirements for this project, there are zero dollars allocated to prevent , or even discourage zombies from climbing the towers.
All they would have to do is put fresh garlic around the monopoles. How hard is that ?
It is so irresponsible.
Thank you to the person who recommended the BOEM document for the Vineyard Wind project. While lengthy and at times a tedious document, it was quite informative. Sadly I found this information too late and also missed all the public comment periods. I encourage everyone to read what they can of these documents, perhaps we can have a greater impact for the other areas outlined.
The SouthCoast Wind Project Documents (Draft Environmental Impact Statement) on the BOEM website show for the first time, the cumulative impacts from all the projects south of Martha’s Vineyard. Very concerning.
To review expert testimony from the 5-hour public hearing fundamental to the ECC 2019 permit denial, see “The Fishermen’s Meeting – Edgartown 6.27.19”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGCAQdo7bv0
The 97-minute video showcases every speaker’s passionate and well-intended best wisdom on the pros and cons of the project, essentially identical to that proposed by Park City Wind, only the turbines being proposed now are even larger.
“That decision was later overturned by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.” Hmmm. Regulatory Capture? Around the world, when these decisions are moved from state-level bureaucracies (the DEPs with revolving doors between agency and lucrative corporate boardrooms) and rather submitted to the courts for resolution, the responsible deliberations of local communities are supported time and again. GO TEAM!
It is shocking the Conservation Commission misreads and misunderstands this topic. One Zoom call to NOAA would have clarified the difference between a Level A and Level B. https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/marine-life-distress/frequent-questions-feeding-or-harassing-marine-mammals-wild#:~:text=Level%20B%20harassment%20refers%20to,breeding%2C%20feeding%2C%20or%20sheltering.
The reporter, Abigail Rosen, did a fine job of explaining both positions and the Edgartown conservation commission is protecting what it is supposed to protect. On the other hand there are financial realities to consider for this wind power project. One of those considerations is the cost of electrical power. In speaking with Vineyard Wind, now pounding steel tubes into the ground and sands, there is a promise of substantial cost savings to island customers. Certainly, the environment and coastal protection of fisheries takes precedent and so it is being examined carefully. And, on the other hand, while offshore wind does reduce Co2 as well, it will not be capable of reducing Co2 enough, nor will electric cars, nor will recycling reduce Co2 significantly given population growth, greater demand for air conditioning and power in general as countries become wealthier and as wars continue to generate massive amounts of Co2 in the destructive phases and will need to generate far more in the reconstruction phase, whenever it begins. The Martha’s Vineyard Commission which approved both projects did so without considering the issues addressed by the Edgartown Con-Com or it would not have allowed it. The MVC also boasts it will reduce Co2 by 45% by 2030. Look around you. Are we reducing any Co2? I have no answers, just questions.
You will never see any cost savings. This isnt about cost, its about reducing fossil fuels.
andrew, what data set did you use to come to your conclusion?
andy– I think you said that this project would never even get started because it would never be funded.
I guess we can check on your latest claim next year.
well, what are the safer alternatives, then ? Not as if oil/gas/coal/nuclear/hydro are without environmental concerns…what’s the lesser-of-the evils energy source option ?
BINGO—tell that to the idiots that leave their trucks running in the parking lots while they go in the liquor store or have lunch.
When will the police start enforcing MGL chapter 90 section 16 A ?
Probably when it starts making sense, so, about the same time Bill Clinton renews his vows of marital fidelity and makes a meaningful gesture of remorse for his past philandering. I think the best we can hope for is a deathbed confession, and that’s about where idling limits are at too. Drivers have to pay for the fuel already, if they’re running their engine, it’s because a trained and licensed driver (or so we’re told) believes they need it running for one reason or another.
You are aware that cars blast through fuel, deliberately, for a time after startup, and then to a lesser degree until fully warmed up?
And, you are also aware that people whose teeth are chattering and hands are shaking, make for really really terrible drivers? It’s not always about warming up the car, sometimes it’s about the driver.
There’s also a small but important minority out there who leave their vehicles running because they don’t trust the dang thing to start again when they want it to. Blame all sorts of economic factors for that, some natural, some artificial. It’s reality for a lot of people.
Kevin–Clinton ? Really ? Ok—
But, to the idling issue.
The general consensus is it is more fuel efficient to shut your car off if it is going to idle for more than 15- 30 seconds.
I see a lot of vehicles idling on these nice spring days with the windows open and no one in the vehicle.
Even on really cold winter days, if you leave the windows up, your vehicle will be relatively warm when you get back after under 5 minutes.
A mid sized pickup uses about 1/2 gallon of gas per hour while idling. That’s gas that has to be pulled out of the ground , refined , transported, etc. it’s also pretty rude to pollute the parking lot you happen to be in.
I had a number of cars I didn’t trust when I was younger, so I get that . But I don’t get why a burly guy with a brand new $60,000 f-350 has to leave his STINKING diesel truck running in the liquor store parking lot on a sunny 65 degree day.
Not to mention all of the vehicles left idling in the SSA staging areas for 1/2 hour before loading.
Mr. Cody’s comments are not really grounded in reality.
Most people are simply unaware of the law and unaware of the fuel-waste and pollution facts on which it is based.
That law Keller is unintelligible. Read it. It has a few escape clauses.
Don’t play into their game. They are just using any tactic to do nothing and continue burning fossil fuels and stuffing their already stuffed pockets.
Nuclear, by far, if only we’d pull our heads out of our butts about appropriately reprocessing the spent fuel. Something about the possibility of generating more fissile material that way, as though anyone with the $$$ and loyal armed services couldn’t make some already merely by placing a sample of readily obtainable uranium-235 on the lid of an operating reactor until the neutron flux has done its thing.
When nuclear goes south, it’s big and scary and far-reaching, and yet… accounts for a tiny fraction of generation-related deaths in its entire operational history. When wind kills a bird, when coal makes someone choke, it goes unnoticed, because it happens so often.
If you want to complain about oil company propaganda, this would be the place to do it.
Three Mile Island
Hess. None died at 3 mile, 31 died at Chernobyl, None died at Fukushima from nuclear only from tsunami. Mihama had 5 deaths from steam. All tragic but in the overall scheme of things a low number.
andy– you don’t bother to mention the deaths and long term health effects from radiation exposure.
Nor do you mention the economic impact of having cities abandoned….
But ok– it happened in somebody else’s backyard So that makes it fine… Right ?
No one has ever been killed by an errant propeller from a windmill, or one falling over you know.
As a resident of Centerville, MA, the home to Craigville Beach where Avangrid plans to come ashore with its 800 Megawatts of electricity, I want to applaud the Edgartown Conservation Commission for standing up to the developer and requesting they perform additional due diligence and show greater transparency with the public. Centerville residents share many of the same concerns as Edgartown residents. While very few people outright oppose clean-energy projects, these projects should NOT be permitted and built without thorough consideration of residents’ concerns about their impact on our maritime, wildlife, ecological environments and the quality of life in our villages and town. The fact that Avangrid immediately appealed the Commission’s decision to the DEP and filed suit against the Commission – rather than work with them to develop and provide the additional information requested – is just a sign of the the Company’s arrogance and unwillingness to be a good partner. They only want what they want and they want it now!
Bob, are you opposed wind someplace other than your backyard?
Kudos to Edgartown Con Com for stopping the industrialization of this amazing and productive biodiverse area of ocean. Nantucket sadly took millions from Vineyard Wind and must only support and say good things, leaving the property owners to fend for themselves. It’s a travesty.
Our beautiful Island’s energy must be generated far far away.
It’s a filthy bit of busisness.
Silly thought but all the green generators/ infrastructure required are manufactured with fossil fuels , & have a short usage life ??
Gayle– you got that right– that really is a silly thought.
The power source used in manufacturing does not effect the service life of what is manufactured.
How silly is that?
Gayle, you are right.
It is called EROI: energy return on energy invested.
The EROI of so-called renewables does not parse when all “externalities” are taken into account.
BTW, a recent headline in the Wall Street Journal:
It is the “net zero” crowd who are turning a blind eye to the impacts of their “ethical” convictions for other people’s backyards while their own backyards, and their consciences, remain pristine.
And do people like Mr. Hess actually think that mining and smelting are carried out by machines using “clean energy” from stochastic sources such as wind and sun?
Mining and smelting use energy from least cost sources.
In 2019, the commission rejected a proposal from Vineyard Wind to bury two cables partly because they did not want the channel to become a runway for multiple offshore projects. The channel is going to be an environmental nightmare. The Pilgrim nuclear plant put out 680 megawatts and now more than that is going through the channel. Kudos to the Edgartown Conservation Commission stand strong.
Edgartown Con Comm DENIAL of the cable landing was based on lack of transparency – a WISE and PRUDENT move. Why should an offshore wind (OSW) project go forward if there are doubts? There is a VIABLE alternative: “shared regional planned approach:” Plugging into a shared regional transmission grid. Avangrid has 3 individual OSW projects landing on 3 separate Cape Cod beaches: more environmentally damaging & costly. Gov Healey applied for federal funding fr Dept of Energy for shared regional planned approach to CONSOLIDATE separate OSW projects. Federal offshore lease areas overlap the NOAA-designated critical habitat of the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale (NARW), with fewer than 340 existing. We need to be good stewards of ocean and marine life. Manufacturing wind turbines is fossil-fuel heavy – lots of steel needed to produce turbines. Keep on fighting Edgartown Con Comm! Thank you for inspiring us!
Ok, so let’s forget wind and just build more nuclear plants as we by far the largest consumers per capita in the world. In fact right here on the Vineyard are some of the largest empty energy wasteful homes in the world. Though I would rather see advances in clean hydrogen generation, I see wind as far less detriment than fossil fuels or nuclear.
Should the Island have it’s own nuke plant?
We could tear up all the existing vibrating cables that are killing whales.
Should all power cables to the Island be removed?
Save the whales, remove all cables
Generate all of the Island’s power on the Island.
Where would we put a big enough power plant to handle the entire island’s needs?
Nuclear, wind, lighting cow farts on fire, whatever the energy source – we can’t even agree amongst ourselves where to put housing. All other needs come first: views, AirBNB, skunks, rare species of poison ivy, not at all endangered plovers… you name it, it’s more important than people having a place to live.
How would we even select a site, that someone isn’t going to shoot down because it screws with their personal experience of their island vacation paradise *cough*weekly_rentals_that_cost_more_than_a_car*cough*?
Katherine – About that point of wind turbines being “fossil fuel heavy”.
You are correct that it takes a lot of energy to mine fabricate and install a large wing turbine.
But it’s not like a gas fired power plant gets built with no carbon footprint.
The steel for the pilings is increasingly smelted and formed with hydrogen that is electrolyzed using– wait for it — electricity generated by wind turbines during off peak times.
They are manufactured in Northern Europe, which is way ahead of us in the wind industry, after all. To sum it up, the total carbon footprint of a wind turbine is 99% less than coal fired plants, and 98% less than natural gas over the course of their usable lives.
But take my word for it :
So to answer your question ” do people like Mr. Hess actually think that mining and smelting are carried out by machines using “clean energy” from stochastic sources such as wind and sun?”
The answer is obvious— not only do people like MR. Hess and myself THINK it, it is actually true. Sorry, I know the truth is hard to handle sometimes when verifiable reality contradicts politically motivated propaganda.
Please note that the link you posted from the clearly right wind biased Wall Street Journal is clearly marked as an “opinion”.
My link above, if you care to look at it, is not an opinion piece from some left wing biased publication, but an analysis of the actual facts.
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