The Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) Office has advanced its environmental review of the proposed Vineyard Wind Connector transmission project by issuing a certificate regarding the project’s Environmental Notification Form (ENF), offshore wind developer Vineyard Wind LLC has announced.
The company is seeking to build the U.S.’ first large-scale offshore wind farm, to be located 14 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard. Vineyard Wind, based in New Bedford, Mass., is 50% owned by funds of Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) and 50% by Avangrid Renewables. The offshore wind project area was selected by a federal-state-stakeholder process that began in 2010.
Vineyard Wind – the only proposed offshore wind project in Massachusetts that has begun the process of obtaining state and federal permits, the developer notes – says its advanced permitting standing, which calls for in-state construction beginning in 2019, now moves forward to the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR). The DEIR is expected to be issued later this spring and will be subject to additional comment.
“We are pleased to have completed the first step of the multi-step MEPA environmental review process and would like to thank the many agencies, elected officials, advocacy groups and interested citizens who provided comments on our initial Environmental Notification Form,” says Erich Stephens, chief development officer for Vineyard Wind.
“We look forward to working collaboratively with local agencies and officials; the Wampanoag tribes; local, state and national environmental groups; fishermen; residents; and other stakeholders in preparing the Draft Environmental Impact Report, which we plan to submit this spring,” Stephens continues. “Based on a preliminary review of the ENF certificate, we remain confident that we will address all concerns regarding short-term impacts associated with construction of the Vineyard Wind Connector while demonstrating that there will be no significant long-term impacts to the local environment.”
The proposed Vineyard Wind Connector is made up of subsea and subsurface electrical transmission lines and a new substation that will connect the Vineyard Wind generation project to the Massachusetts electric grid. The connector will bring up to 800 MW of wind power to a connection point at an existing substation in an industrial park in Barnstable and will not require any changes to the existing electrical transmission system on the Cape, the developer says.
Vineyard Wind has stipulated that 100% solid (containing no fluids) cables will be buried for their entire length onshore and offshore and that transformers and other electrical equipment at the new substation will be underlain by full-volume, impervious containment systems.
The MEPA review process of the Vineyard Wind Connector began with public meetings in Boston and Hyannis, site visits in Barnstable and Yarmouth, and public comment periods, as well as written comments that were considered by MEPA in developing the issued certificate.