BOEM Delays Vineyard Wind Project

By The Maritime Executive 02-11-2020 07:05:01

The Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has released a revised permitting timeline for the Vineyard Wind 1 offshore wind project. The timeline indicates the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Vineyard Wind I project will issued in December, over a year later than its previous target of August 2019.

BOEM says it needs to evaluate the impact that offshore wind projects will have on commercial fishing and navigation along the east coast. BOEM aims to publish a supplement in June that will evaluate the projected cumulative impacts of several major offshore wind projects.

Lars Pedersen, CEO of Vineyard Wind, said in response to the delay: “While we need to analyze what a longer permitting timeline will mean for beginning construction, commercial operation in 2022 is no longer expected. We look forward to the clarity that will come with a final EIS so that Vineyard Wind can deliver this project to Massachusetts and kick off the new U.S. offshore energy industry.” 

Located over 15 miles off the coast of Massachusetts, the 800MW project will generate energy for over 400,000 homes and businesses, while reducing carbon emissions by over 1.6 million tons per year. The wind  farm will consist of an array of wind turbines, spaced at least eight-tenths of a mile apart, that are each capable of generating 9.5MW of power. 

The delay in the environmental approval was announced by BOEM in November last year. Vineyard Wind's previous plan to break ground by the end of 2019 would have made it eligible for a 12 percent tax credit from the state. 

National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) President Erik G. Milito said: “The updated timeline of the permitting schedule for the Vineyard Wind project is disappointing. Regulatory delays – especially of a new industry – could open the door to unexpected and unintended bottlenecks and holdups. However, the complexity of what Interior is doing should not be forgotten. It is critically important that Interior issue a robust Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) that can withstand the automatic litigation that could be filed in an attempt to block the ascendant offshore wind industry.”

Vineyard Wind, based in New Bedford, Massachusetts, is 50 percent owned by funds of Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and 50 percent by Avangrid Renewables.

In November, Vineyard Wind announced a $50,000 grant to the New Bedford Port Authority for developing publicly owned port facilities that could help support shore-based operations of the emerging Massachusetts offshore wind industry. In April 2019, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities approved long-term power purchase contracts between Vineyard Wind and Massachusetts’ electric distribution companies for the delivery of 800MW of offshore wind energy. 

Vineyard wind is also active in Connecticut. In December last year, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection announced that Vineyard Wind has been selected to advance to contract negotiations with the state’s electric distribution companies to provide 804MW of offshore wind through the development of the Park City Wind Project. Expected to come online in 2025, the project will provide the equivalent of 14 percent of the state’s electricity supply. The project also includes an estimated $890 million in direct economic development in Connecticut, including Bridgeport Harbor and the local supply chain. 

 Including Vineyard Wind, 14 large offshore wind projects are expected to come online in the U.S. by 2026.