Massachusetts offshore wind developer Vineyard Wind has submitted a final environmental impact report (FEIR) to the state’s Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA).
The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) recently issued a notice of availability for the project’s draft environmental impact statement (DEIS). According to the developer, both these steps move the project closer to approval of environmental permitting by state and federal officials. Endorsement of the FEIR will be the final step in the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) review process, which includes a focus on cables connecting the proposed 800 MW project in federal waters to the grid connection point in Barnstable, Mass.
BOEM prepared the DEIS as part of the agency’s review of the entire Vineyard Wind project, which will be constructed 14 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard. The report provides an analysis of potential environmental impacts associated with proposed actions as set forth in the construction and operations plan, submitted to BOEM in 2017.
According to the developer, the FEIR reflects refinements that have been made to the project, including many based on input from state agencies, the Town of Barnstable and members of the public. The MEPA office will accept public comment until Jan. 25, 2019.
The Vineyard Wind offshore wind turbine array, located approximately 34 miles south of the Cape Cod mainland, calls for a grid connection point to an existing substation in an industrial park in Barnstable with no changes to the existing electrical transmission. Vineyard Wind has stipulated that it will use solid material cables only, buried for their entire length onshore, and that the transformers and other electrical equipment at the new substation will be underlain by full-volume, impervious containment systems.
Since its selection by Massachusetts utilities as the winning bidder in the commonwealth’s recent offshore wind solicitation, Vineyard Wind has moved forward to obtain all necessary approvals by summer 2019, the developer maintains.
Vineyard Wind is also actively consulting with tribal and local agencies, including conservation commissions and planning boards. In total, the offshore project will face substantial public review and consultations by nearly 30 federal, tribal, state and local approval agencies. In addition, public meetings will be held in January; information about the meetings will be posted here.
Based in New Bedford, Mass., Vineyard Wind is a 50/50 joint venture between Avangrid Renewables and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners.