Articles from Massachusetts
With the federal tax credit for offshore wind projects about to expire, every day counts.
Interior ordering supplemental study of Vineyard Wind project The Trump administration cast the fate of the nation’s first major offshore wind farm into doubt by extending an environmental review for the $2.8 billion Vineyard Wind project off Massachusetts.
“Comments received from stakeholders and cooperating agencies requested a more robust cumulative analysis,” BOEM spokesman Tracey Moriarty said in an email. “Considering such comments, and taking into account recent state offshore wind procurement announcements, BOEM is expanding its cumulative analysis of projects within its draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to also include projects that have been awarded power purchase agreements, but may not have submitted Construction and Operations Plans (COPs), and potential scenarios based on state procurements that are expected to be awarded.”
Connie Gillette, chief of public affairs for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, said Friday the agency took the action after receiving comments “from stakeholders and cooperating agencies” requesting a more robust cumulative analysis that would include projects that have been awarded power purchase agreements, but may not have submitted construction and operations plans.
Vineyard Wind’s, the $2.8 billion, 800-megawatt offshore wind project planned for waters off Martha’s Vineyard, appears to have been delayed, perhaps significantly, by the federal government.
The Trump administration was unsatisfied with the studies done on how much the wind industry would impact the fishing industry and has ordered an extended review: "An Interior Department review explored how Vineyard Wind may affect other industries and resources, including marine life. But the National Marine Fisheries Service raised concerns it looked too narrowly at potential cumulative effects on fishing, prompting the supplemental review."
Beyond the immediate concerns with permitting, Vineyard Wind faces a tangle of logistical challenges and potential investor turmoil if the project continues to see delays. Anthony Logan, an industry expert with the renewables research firm Wood Mackenzie Power, has spent the past six years forecasting the wind energy field. He said that while Vineyard Wind, barring major disaster, remains poised to become the first industrial-scale offshore wind-farm in the U.S., the financial success of the project is dependent on qualifying for a federal tax incentive for wind energy projects, known as the investment tax credit (ITC).
One section of the proposed cable route passes through the Muskeget Channel about a mile from Chappaquiddick, and therefore falls under the auspices of the Edgartown conservation commission. In a 5-1 vote, the commission denied Vineyard Wind a permit to lay cable in the channel. Vineyard Wind has since appealed to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.
Vineyard Wind already agreed to a nearly $17 million mitigation package in Rhode Island. But it doesn’t look like that will be enough. The fishing industry still has many issues. For example, the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association is worried about the effect these giant towers could have on boat radar, and the impediments that transmission cables could cause.
Advocates and legislators gathered Monday to discuss the threats facing North Atlantic right whales and to call for more conservation efforts.
BOEM spokesman Stephen Boutwell said NMFS is required to co-sign the project’s Record of Decision, a formal decision document, for the permit to be issued. The final environmental impact study and record of decision had originally been expected in April but were later delayed to June and then early July. Boutwell said the agency does not “have a date for these publications at this time.”
The National Marine Fisheries Service is refusing to sign off on an environmental impact report originally expected July 7, Reuters said, citing previously unseen federal documents. Fishing industry representatives want proposed wind turbines farther apart than the currently planned 0.75 nautical mile, want the turbines aligned east-west instead of northwest-southeast, and want compensation for any damage to their livelihoods, according to Reuters.
Locally, Massachusetts and Rhode Island commercial and recreation fishermen continue to be concerned about the lack of habitat and fish studies before development starts in wind farm lease areas.
According to the suit, Chin, a registered real estate broker, had Rosemary Victoria sell the house to Mojica and Grendon, but neither informed the couple that the turbines would likely be built, a violation of state regulations that require the disclosure of information that would influence prospective buyers. “Angela S. Chin and Rosemary Victoria violated this regulation by not disclosing to the plaintiffs that four, massive, wind turbines would soon be constructed on the adjacent lot,” Henchy wrote.
Members of Congress have become involved in trying to move Vineyard Wind forward, a top Baker administration official said Tuesday, as lobbying intensifies to advance what state officials hope will be the nation’s first commercial-scale offshore wind project.
Fishing is one of the most dangerous jobs in the country. In 2017, over 40 fishermen died while navigating out at sea -- the highest rate of occupational deaths that year. ...Farnham says offshore wind farms will make it worse. That’s because fishermen argue the turbines aren’t spaced far enough apart to allow vessels to safely navigate through them.
A spokesman for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management offered no explanation for the holdup but said more time was needed. The spokesman also noted that the agency was well within the two-year review window for such projects. The two-year review window is up in March 2020 – after construction was scheduled to begin.
Vineyard Wind, the company that's planning to build the state's first offshore wind farm, is facing setbacks for the project of 84 turbines in waters near Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. The Edgartown Conservation Commission voted against approval for transmission cables that Vineyard Wind wants to lay about a mile east of the town. The Federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has put off issuing a final environmental impact statement on the wind farm. Sarah Mizes-Tan, a reporter with WGBH’s Cape Cod bureau, spoke with WGBH Radio’s Arun Rath about the wind farm and some of the setbacks. This transcript has been edited for clarity.
The clock is ticking. Vineyard Wind’s utility contracts require the first phase to go online by Jan. 15, 2022. The developer has orders with suppliers lined up that could be jeopardized. There’s also some question about a federal tax credit that expires at the end of 2019. Vineyard Wind has apparently qualified, but that status could be in trouble if certain milestones aren’t met. None of Vineyard Wind’s rivals want to see the project collapse.