MASSACHUSETTS: First U.S. Commercial Offshore Wind Park Approved

NEW BEDFORD, Massachusetts, May 26, 2021 (ENS) – To be located in the Atlantic Ocean 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard, the first commercial-scale offshore wind park in the United States, received approval last week in a Record of Decision from the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, BOEM, the final major step in the federal review process.

The Vineyard Wind 1 facility, situated 34 miles (55 km) south of the Cape Cod peninsula, will include 62 wind turbines with a generating capacity of 800 megawatts.

The submarine power cable will run from the Vineyard and Nantucket to Covell Beach in Centerville in Barnstable on Cape Cod, where it will connect to the electrical grid overland through ISO New England.

Since 2017, the Vineyard Wind 1 project has been through an unprecedented and exhaustive public review process that generated more than 30,000 public comments, more than 90 percent of which supported the project. The Construction and Operations Plan was reviewed by more than two dozen federal, state, and local agencies over the course of more than three and a half years.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities approved the project in 2019.

“Today’s Record of Decision is not about the start of a single project, but the launch of a new industry,” said Vineyard Wind CEO Lars Pedersen on May 18. “Receiving this final major federal approval means the jobs, economic benefits and clean energy revolution associated with the Vineyard Wind 1 project can finally come to fruition. It’s been a long road to get to this point, but ultimately, we are reaching the end of this process with the strongest possible project.”

The project is jointly owned by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, CIP, and the Spanish company Iberdrola, a subsidiary of Avangrid Renewables. GE Wind Energy will supply the turbines. Windar Renovables will build the foundations; Prysmian Group will provide cabling.

“We are very excited and proud to be part of the birth of an incredibly important new industry the U.S. Offshore wind is a key part of America’s clean energy future, and Vineyard Wind 1 is a major step forward to the clean and connected future we envision and work toward every day,” said Avangrid CEO Dennis Arriola. “We appreciate the thorough review by BOEM as well as the considerable input from stakeholders. The broad engagement from many parties throughout this process has improved the project and positioned both Vineyard Wind 1 and the broader offshore wind industry for long-term success.”

“We are very proud to have been part of developing this landmark project,” said Christian Skakkebæk, a senior partner and co-founder of CIP. “Vineyard Wind 1 is slated to become one of the world’s largest offshore wind projects, creating significant investments and good paying jobs in the U.S.”

“For many years we have been actively engaged in the development of the U.S. offshore wind market, and we are confident that Vineyard Wind will pave the way for a successful and growing wind industry in the country. This market will play an important role for CIP’s renewable investments for years to come, and we look forward to being an integral part in the transition to green energy in the U.S,” he said.

“Massachusetts should be proud that this decision launches the nation’s first commercial-scale offshore wind project here on the Commonwealth’s shores,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “This groundbreaking project will produce affordable, renewable energy, create jobs and prove Massachusetts developed a successful model for developing offshore wind energy. We appreciate the federal government’s partnership to grant this approval and look forward to working with Vineyard Wind to create thousands of jobs and set the Commonwealth on a path to achieve Net Zero emissions.”

The project design includes the world’s most powerful wind turbine, the GE Haliade-X, with a capacity of 13 megawatts. The larger turbine capacity has allowed the project to reduce the total number of turbines from 108 to 62 while still delivering a total capacity of 800 MW to Massachusetts ratepayers.

The turbine layout, which features consistent spacing of one nautical mile between turbines, was endorsed by the U.S. Coast Guard for transit, fishing and navigational safety.

John Lavelle, president & CEO, Offshore Wind at GE Renewable Energy, said, “Today’s approval of the Vineyard Wind offshore project is a key step toward achieving the Biden Administration’s goal of bringing 30 GW of offshore wind online by 2030, and GE is excited to support that goal by providing our Haliade-X turbines, the most powerful offshore wind turbine built to date, for this project.

“Today’s decision is one more reason to be optimistic about the potential of offshore wind in the U.S., an abundant source of clean, renewable energy that can help coastal communities address the threat of climate change and accelerate the energy transition,” Lavelle said.

“What a difference today is from the last four years,” said Congressman Bill Keating, a Democrat, who has been the leader in Congress in support of this project. “We have worked so hard to get to this point and I applaud Vineyard Wind for maintaining their commitment to the region in the face of challenge after challenge from the prior Administration. … This decision means we will have good, clean energy jobs coming to our shores and a new generation of economic growth that reduces our carbon footprint.”

U.S. Senator Ed Markey who represents Massachusetts, said Vineyard Wind will be the first of many offshore wind projects to come. “With this record of decision on Vineyard Wind on the books, the era of American offshore wind is no longer on the horizon – it’s here, now, off the coast of Massachusetts, and the answer to America’s energy future is blowing in the offshore wind.”

Vineyard Wind has presented Massachusetts electricity retail companies with a set of proposals to develop a second offshore wind farm, Vineyard Wind 2, to be installed to the south of the first. The proposals include a 400 MW project and options to develop a further 800 MW.

Featured image: GE Haliade-X wind turbine offshore the coast of the United Kingdom. (Photo courtesy GE Renewable Energy)

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