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Vineyard Wind Project Delayed

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By The Maritime Executive 2019-08-11 20:58:30

The Vineyard Wind project, Massachusetts’ first offshore wind project, has been delayed indefinitely after the federal government's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) delayed its environmental approval.

Local media report that the company's plan to break ground by the end of 2019 would have made it eligible for a 12 percent tax credit from the state, timing that some believe is essential to Vineyard Wind's competitive power pricing.  

BOEM has not made public comment about the details of the delay or a new potential timeline.

Vineyard Wind is well underway in developing what would be the nation's first utility-scale offshore wind energy project. Located over 15 miles off the coast of Massachusetts, the project will generate energy for over 400,000 homes and businesses, while reducing carbon emissions by over 1.6 million tons per year.

Vineyard Wind has leased a 160,000 acre area south of Martha's Vineyard. The location was determined through a multi-year, inter-governmental task force process, which carefully considered scientific data and public input, says the company. The offshore wind project 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 company says submarine cables will be installed along a carefully designed route from the project site to a landing point on shore, buried up to six feet below the sea floor. The route has been designed after an extensive geological survey of the area to avoid as many sensitive areas as possible.

Vineyard Wind released a statement saying: “The federal government’s decision to further delay the approval of the FEIS for the Vineyard Wind 1 project comes as a surprise and disappointment. To be clear, the Vineyard Wind 1 project remains viable and is committed to move forward. 

“While we appreciate that the discussion on cumulative impacts is driven by rapid growth of the industry beyond our project, we urge the federal government to complete the review of Vineyard Wind 1 as quickly as possible. The project is poised to kickstart a new offshore wind industry that promises industrial growth along with new manufacturing and blue-collar employment across the United States from New England to Louisiana to Colorado and beyond.”

Vineyard Wind says it remains deeply committed to the emerging industry’s success. “We firmly believe that once regulators are fully satisfied, our project and dozens of others will deliver billions of dollars of new investment in ports, enhanced energy independence, and above all, high-paying, long-term jobs for thousands of Americans.”

The offshore industry organization NOIA has also voiced its disappointment about the delay. Vice-President of Government and Political Affairs, Tim Charters, said: “The decision to extend the environmental review of the Vineyard Wind project is disappointing to many who are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to join the offshore wind industry boom coming to the U.S. Atlantic seaboard. We understand that the permitting of significant energy projects is challenging. To make any project carry the cumulative impact of other projects, that may or may not ever come to be, is a burden that makes permitting much more difficult. 

“We encourage the federal agencies to view this project on its individual merits, benefits and environmental impacts when reaching permitting decisions. We expect that DOI will continue to work diligently to complete their environmental review of this crucial project. NOIA continues to believe that Vineyard is a win-win for the American people, the offshore energy industry and the environment.”