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BOEM Releases Final Environmental Report as New England Wind Nears Approval

offshore wind farm
BOEM released its latest environmental impact study as it moves forward with the approval of offshore wind farms (file photo)

Published Feb 26, 2024 2:40 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

The U.S. offshore wind energy sector continues to develop momentum as the Biden administration continues forward with its clean energy agenda. In the latest development, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) completed its environmental review of the proposed New England Wind project offshore Massachusetts. This month, BOEM completed this review as well as approved the construction plan for Empire Wind, and defined the Oregon offshore wind area.

Today’s announcement highlights the time involved in the review process which several projects have now completed. The first lease for the site originally known as Vineyard Wind South was awarded in 2015 but in 2021 was transferred by Avangrid to Park City Wind and renamed New England Wind. The comment period on the draft environmental impact statement closed a year ago. 

BOEM has completed the process and will publish the final statement at the end of this week. They note that they considered 776 comments received when developing the Final EIS for this project. The final environmental impact statement (Final EIS) analyzes the potential environmental impacts of the activities laid out in the New England Wind project’s construction and operations plan and reasonable alternatives.

The agency will now complete its final review and plans to issue a record of decision on whether to approve the project no earlier than April 2024. If the project is approved, the record of decision will also identify any conditions of approval.  

The New England Wind project is located about 20 nautical miles south of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, and about 24 nautical miles southwest of Nantucket. BOEM estimates the proposed project would generate up to 2,600 megawatts of electricity, enough to power more than 900,000 homes. Park City, submitted a two-phased project plan that includes up to 129 wind turbines, with up to five offshore export cables that would transmit electricity to onshore transmission systems in the Town of Barnstable and Bristol County, Massachusetts.

Rhode Island in October 2023 approved the first phase of the project as a small portion of the export cable would pass through the state’s waters. The first phase calls for 804 MW provided from 84 turbines.

BOEM Director Elizabeth Klein emphasized that this release demonstrates the administration’s steady progress toward attaining its clean energy goals. The Department of the Interior has approved the nation's first six commercial-scale offshore wind energy projects with both South Fork Wind and Vineyard Wind recently starting to generate power. BOEM has held four offshore wind lease auctions, including the first-ever sales offshore the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico coasts. BOEM also advanced the process to explore additional opportunities for offshore wind energy development in the Gulf of Maine, the Gulf of Mexico, and offshore Oregon and the Central Atlantic coast.

BOEM previously said it remains on track to complete reviews of at least 16 offshore wind energy project plans by 2025, representing more than 27 gigawatts of clean energy