Edgartown rescinds Park City Wind denial

The denial was overturned at court and by the state. 

At its closest point, the undersea cable will be approximately one mile from Edgartown's shoreline. —Courtesy MVC

Following a recent court ruling, the Edgartown conservation commission rescinded its denial of Park City Wind’s request to install two offshore export cables beneath the ocean floor within Edgartown’s offshore waters. 

But members of the local commission still have concerns about a corridor of electric cables that are passing a little more than a mile from Edgartown.

The cable connection received approval from the regional Martha’s Vineyard Commission last September, but the Edgartown commission later denied the company’s request. Park City Wind then filed a complaint in Dukes County Superior Court earlier this year, receiving a favorable court ruling, which sent the project back to the Edgartown conservation commission. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection also overruled the local commission decision.

The commission held a public hearing in that process on Wednesday, Sept. 13. 

Park City is proposing to install two export cables that would connect the offshore wind project to Barnstable’s electrical grid. The cables are planned to be installed in a corridor passing through Muskeget Channel, off Chappaquiddick Island. The route is also contiguous to that of Vineyard Wind, which has already laid cables. The subsurface construction would widen the existing cable corridor by nearly 1,000 feet, to a total of about 3,100 to 5,100 feet. 

The Park City Wind facility, which is also being developed by Avangrid, is expected to generate around 800 megawatts of electricity, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 1.5 million tons annually, according to developers. 

Some commissioners wanted more details during Wednesday’s public hearing. 

Commissioner Jeff Carlson asked the Park City Wind representatives to elaborate on why they disagreed with the commission’s ruling. 

“We felt that … the denial order of conditions was inconsistent with the evidence that was placed in front of the commission,” Adam Kahn, an attorney representing Park City Wind, said, adding that issues raised were not ones that were previously discussed as part of the proceedings, and some of the concerns were outside of the Wetlands Protection Act’s scope. 

Carlson disagreed, saying the denial was about the models of the sea floor cabling and the allowed amount of harassment of marine mammals authorized by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He particularly expressed concern that the endangered North Atlantic right whales were on this list. 

“I don’t understand why that’s nonsensical,” Carlson said.

Carlson continued by saying Park City Wind’s incidental take authorization expired in 2023, and asked if this will be renewed. Takes, awarded by NOAA through incidental harassment authorizations, defines the allowed amount of harassment of marine mammals allowed by a project’s activities. Hans Van Lingen from Avangrid said the incidental harassment authorization, which was issued last September, only applied to active vessel work. Van Lingen said no construction work is planned for the immediate future, but the renewal will take place before vessel work begins. “It’s not something that needs to be in place at this very moment,” Van Lingen said, adding that he expects that the language in the renewed authorization will be similar to the previously issued one. 

The Marine Mammals Protection Act lists two definitions for harassment, which are labeled as Level A and Level B. Level A harassment is “any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance that has the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild,” while Level B includes “acts that have the potential to disturb (but not injure) a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by disrupting behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering.” 

Park City Wind’s expired incidental harassment authorization awarded by NOAA only allowed Level B harassment. However, the document also shows mitigation efforts Park City Wind needs to take in regard to right whales, such as reporting the animals’ sightings, and vessel distance limitations. 

Commissioner Geoffrey Kontje asked what the aggregate impact of the cables would be on Muskeget channel. He underscored that cables from other projects have already been laid, and more are coming from other projects. Kahn said there would be five cables in total for Avangrid’s projects near Martha’s Vineyard, with the two cables from Park City Wind and another three for another project called Commonwealth Wind. 

“I think the overriding concern is, Where’s the end to the number of cables that will be installed out there?” Kontje said. “The corridor has already been widened once to accommodate more cables.”

Kontje pointed out that while each cable might only impact a “narrow band of sediment” on the ocean floor, the number of offshore wind projects planned around waters near Martha’s Vineyard would have a significant impact. 

“I think that’s a large concern,” he said, adding that the commission is tasked with protecting the waters of Martha’s Vineyard, particularly those of Edgartown. 

After further discussion, commission chair Edward Vincent Jr. called for public comments. No public comments were made during the hearing.

Before the denial could be rescinded, Carlson made a motion to continue the public hearing until more information was received, such as an updated incidental harassment authorization. Commissioner Christina Brown seconded the motion.

“We simply do not have enough information to make a decision, in my opinion,” Carlson said.

Van Lingen pointed out that the superseding order requires Park City Wind to provide information like the incidental harassment authorization to the commission. Avangrid officials also noted that Edgartown’s wetland laws don’t really deal with marine mammals. 

Commission chair Vincent emphasized that the hearing was about rescinding the commission’s denial and going with the state’s Department of Environmental Protection’s order, which was advised by town counsel. “We were overruled,” Vincent said. 

After further discussion and receiving clarification it would be the denial rescindment that would be postponed, Brown took back seconding Carlson’s motion; no other commissioners seconded Carlson’s motion.

The commission then voted 6-0 to rescind the denial of Park City Wind’s request. 

Carlson, who lost connection during the meeting, could not vote.


  1. I’m glad to hear that the motion to postpone the rescindment of the denial was not seconded, and so failed. It stands to reason when there is a remand order that supercedes the denial.

    The sooner we get wind turbines installed, the sooner we get off fossil fuels.

  2. No matter what is said, there is no justification for a human action, that will push the North Atlantic right whale into extinction. None.

    • The leading human threats to right whales are fishing gear, vessel strikes and climate change. The wind farm installers aren’t fishing, they are taking many measures to stay clear of whales, and they are essential to mitigating climate change. If you care about whales, please support wind power.

      • NOAA’s data shows from 1990-2011 the right whale population doubled. During that period there was 75% more fishing activity than there is today. If fishing activity was a source of decline , then it would be during that time period. The fishing argument is not valid.

        • jason– you are correct– the North Atlantic
          right whale population did indeed double
          from 1990-2011. And commercial fishing
          did increase.
          I won’t even bother to mention that during that
          period of time, they were classified as endangered,
          shipping lanes were changed and speed
          limits were imposed.
          However, in 1991 the worlds’ first offshore
          wind farm came on line. It was named Vindeby,
          and built by Orsted– the same company that is
          building VW. one.
          Between 1991 and 2011, windfarms
          increased at an exponential rate.
          Indeed between 2006 and 2011, wind farms increased
          by an average 26% per year.
          That’s 130 % just in those 5 years.
          So, it’s quite obvious that the rapid
          increase in the number of windfarms in the
          north Atlantic, actually helped increase the
          number of right whales. You may ask how is
          that possible ? Well think about this — there are
          some “vibrations” from these windmills.
          We all know about Barry White—
          he had some really “good vibrations”
          that many people found romantically enticing.
          i will postulate that the whales find the vibrations
          from the windmills quite romantic– even erotic
          That stimulates both the male and female whales
          into having more of whatever you want to call it
          that produces more baby whales. Know what I mean ?
          The correlation is quite clear to me.
          Prove me wrong.
          And by the way– the Noaa site that you referenced
          a while ago states that since 2017, 9 Right whales
          have died as the result of entanglement. In addition
          31 have suffered serious from entanglement and
          an additional 36 have suffered “sub lethal” injuries
          from entanglement. many of them would have died if
          not for the efforts of dedicated conservationist.
          But, what’s a little odd here is that the people who
          are most opposed to the wind farms can not
          document a single fatality of a right whale in
          over 40 years of data since wind farms came on line.
          Again– Prove me wrong.

    • Mary— you are absolutely correct.
      The actions of humans are currently
      pushing the North Atlantic right whale towards
      extinction. The human induced warming of ocean
      temperatures is inhibiting the growth and availability of
      their primary source of food. The observed increase in the
      ph of the oceans will inevitably affect their sources
      of nourishment as well as directly affect their personal
      biological functions. The owners of Large cargo ships
      and oil tankers have for decades successful lobbied against
      any efforts to protect these magnificent creatures from
      colliding with and often killing them in the interest of getting
      whatever product they are carrying to market as quickly
      as possible— Time is money after all. Indeed, this year, as
      commerce picks up after the downturn form the pandemic,
      we have seen a significant increase in ship strikes that have
      resulted in an “unusual mortality event” on the eastern seaboard.
      The fishing industry has also succeeded in defeating most efforts to
      implement regulations about fishing gear to protect not only the
      Right whale, but all other marine mammals. People after all
      don’t want the price of fish to go up just to save some
      marine mammals that are soo stupid to stay out of nets.
      Yes, Mary— We are in full agreement.
      That is why I am , and I assume you are also , very happy
      that the EPA ,the fisheries department, and NOAA have implemented
      stringent rules, in full agreement with the companies building
      these structures that not a single marine mammal is injured
      in any way by any offshore wind project.

  3. Transporting oil helps to push North American Right Whale into extinction, windmills less so.
    Most human action, pushes the North Atlantic right whale into extinction.
    We will get energy, wind over oil please.

  4. Geoff Kontje seems to be the only person asking the right questions.

    Obviously local environmental concerns as well as the intrinsic rights of right whales and other marine and bird species are nullified by the reckless “wind-farmization” of our coastal waters and the Continental Shelf.

    • Obviously local environmental concerns as well as the intrinsic rights of right whales and other marine and bird species are nullified by the reckless “oil extraction” on our coastal waters and the Continental Shelf.
      Not to mention lighting the oil on fire.
      And spilling it.

  5. The Edgartown Conservation Commission quoting content from conspiracy and misinformation sites was enough of an education into their knowledge and oversite for me.

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