Revolution Wind receives federal approval

The 65-turbine farm will be built 12 miles from the Vineyard.

Revolution Wind was approved by the U.S. Department of the Interior. —Courtesy of BOEM

Updated August 23

The U.S. Department of the Interior announced Tuesday morning that it approved the Revolution Wind project, a major offshore wind farm near the shores of Aquinnah. 

This marks the fourth commercial-scale offshore wind project approved by the federal department. 

A press release from the Interior Department states the Revolution Wind project will be located about 15 nautical miles southeast of Point Judith in Rhode Island, but it will actually be closer to Martha’s Vineyard — the project location is just 12 miles away from Aquinnah. 

According to the department, the project will be capable of producing an estimated 704 megawatts of energy, and to power nearly 250,000 homes. According to the Revolution Wind website, the project will provide 400 megawatts of power to Rhode Island and 304 megawatts of power to Connecticut. The project is also expected to create around 1,200 jobs during the construction phase.

Revolution Wind will consist of 65 wind turbines and two substations. 

“Together with industry, labor, and partners from coast to coast, we are building an entirely new industry off the East and West and Gulf coasts,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in the release. “The Interior Department is committed to the Biden-Harris administration’s all-of-government approach to the clean energy future, and delivering clean, reliable, renewable energy to help respond to the climate crisis, lower energy costs, and create good-paying union jobs across the manufacturing, shipbuilding, and construction sectors.”

Haaland added that there was more work to be done for the project. “We will continue to maintain open communication and frequent collaboration with federal partners, Tribal Nations, states, industry, and ocean users to address potential challenges to and identify opportunities for the continued success of the U.S. offshore wind industry,” Haaland said in the release. 

According to the release, the department approved the project after considerations from the final Environmental Impact Statement — an 820-page document accompanied by a 2,054-page appendices document — that includes a number of alternative options for the project’s development. 

In the preferred alternative, the project can “meet energy needs by installing fewer wind turbines” than the originally proposed 100 turbines. This would allow the developer to “reduce impacts to visual resources, benthic habitat, and ocean co-users.” There are also 79 possible locations for the installation of the turbines and the offshore substations within the lease area. 

The 199-page “Record of Decision” includes measures aimed at “avoiding, minimizing, and mitigating” potential impacts from the construction and operation of the project, such as fishery mitigation funds. Aquinnah has been in negotiations with offshore wind projects to be compensated for impacts to the town, and recently reached an agreement with Revolution Wind

Additionally, the release said, Revolution Wind committed to measures like vessel speed restrictions and construction clearance zones to reduce the possible impacts to protected species, such as marine mammals, sea turtles, and Atlantic sturgeon. 

The release states that the federal government took into account feedback from various stakeholders in its decisionmaking process. Leaders from the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) have expressed their issues with offshore wind development, and Islanders were also concerned when BOEM came to Martha’s Vineyard to present Revolution Wind’s draft environmental impact statement last October.

In a statement to The Times, Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe chairwoman Cheryl Andrews-Maltais repeated the tribe’s opposition to the project. “We most strenuously object to the permitting of Revolution Wind,” she said. “This project, along with the previously permitted South Fork Wind and Vineyard Wind 1, will have, and are having, a devastatingly negative effect on our Tribe, Tribal Community, our food security, and most importantly our Sacred Sites; now and into the future.”

According to Andrews-Maltais, the federal government’s rapid pursuit of offshore wind goes against indigenous people’s rights to environmental justice and protecting tribal resources. 

“We have tried to bring attention to the fact that as Indigenous Peoples, we have been the original stewards of our lands, air, and waters, to protect and preserve them as the gift they were from our Ancestors, to the responsibility we have to provide them in good health and condition to our future generations,” Andrews-Maltais said. “And yet, the government continues.”

The chairwoman said federal agencies have ignored the tribe’s calls to slow down development and fully understand the impact offshore wind construction would have on the environment, marine wildlife and ecosystems, and to the tribe’s cultural resources and sacred sites. 

“While we support renewable energy, which includes wind energy, we simply can’t afford to continue to race blindly toward an artificial deadline goal,” Andrews-Maltais said, adding that the the federal government seems to be pushing the offshore wind development in pursuit of a slogan, referencing President Joe Biden’s goal to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy capacity by 2030.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is currently on track to complete reviewing at least 16 offshore wind project plans by 2025. 

“The project’s approval underscores the administration’s commitment to promoting domestic energy production and fighting climate change, while promoting economic growth and fostering environmental stewardship within coastal communities,” BOEM director Elizabeth Klein said in the release. “We are committed to working closely with Tribes, state and local leaders, industry, ocean users, and key stakeholders to responsibly develop this clean energy resource and ensure a sustainable future for generations to come.”

A project that is already underway is Vineyard Wind, located in waters south of Martha’s Vineyard. This project will be the first commercial-scale offshore wind farm in the U.S., and is slated to begin producing energy by October.

Updated with a statement from Cheryl Andrews-Maltais.


    • They really should put a couple of oil rigs out
      there rather than these windmills.
      Then we could build a local refinery and a local
      oil burning plant. THAT would never bother the
      whales. And then we could all leave our oversized
      vehicles running all day long, and leave our 200
      watt outdoor lights on all night and all day, for that
      matter. And it would be so cheap ( that’s the part that
      counts after all ) that we could all eat $25 a pound
      tuna and $65 a pound lobster meat every day.

    • I was hoping that they would bring prosperity to the Island by opening up the area to drilling for oil.

    • No amount of thumbs down will keep the ugly turbines from despoiling your view, those days are over.
      Where should the Island’s power be generated?
      How about someplace where half the population lives below the poverty line.
      Someplace where the air and water are filthy?
      How about a nice “clean coal” (I am talking Trump hand washed clean) out by the airport?
      The smoke stack will need to fold for airplanes, or the waste gasses could be piped to to the Tisbury Double Wide Classrooms for heat.
      Double Wide classrooms are so esthetically pleasing. Windmills are so ugly

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