Vineyard Wind project faces permitting, construction delays

Connecticut Public Radio reported over the weekend that a final decision to approve the Vineyard Wind Project may not occur until the end 2020, adding a layer of doubt about when the offshore wind power project would actually start. 

Last month, National Fishermen reported Vineyard Wind could miss its planned construction start of later this year due to the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s delay in reviewing the 800-megawatt wind farm off the Massachusetts coast. 

The Connecticut Public Radio report comes less than a week after the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance, a seafood industry group that seeks to work with wind power projects, issued a statement saying it had not taken a position either for or against such offshore developments.

“During the development of the Vineyard Wind Draft Environmental Impact Statement, RODA signed a memorandum of understanding with BOEM and NMFS in order to collaborate on the science and process of offshore wind energy development on the Atlantic OCS [lease plan],” the group said in a statement. “We value the relationships and progress we are advancing with both agencies as well as those with developers, including Vineyard Wind, through cooperation on our Joint Industry Task Force and the Responsible Offshore Science Alliance.”

In its statement, RODA said it still has concerns about Vineyard Wind.

Specifically, the group wants to avoid establishing a “negative precedent” for fisheries nationwide if the project moves forward without finding ways to mitigate issues that could impact the fisheries that depend on the waters just south of Martha’s Vineyard. 

Commercial fishermen have provided data to help developers with turbine spacing and held discussions with stakeholders over designated transit lanes that would reduce the impact on fishermen.

“The fishing industry remains resolute that the spacing and orientation of turbines within a project area is one of the primary factors in determining what fisheries impacts will be, and thus demands the utmost diligence in consideration and analysis,” the organization said.

The new delay could affect Vineyard Wind’s ability to provide power at nearly half the cost that Massachusetts families currently pay, the radio report stated. A federal tax credit program is set to expire at the end of the year, although at least one Rhode Island congressman seeks an extension of the tax credit program through 2026.

RODA said it will continue to urge federal officials to take their time in reaching the right decision.

“[We] do not envy the challenges this project and its regulators face,” RODA said. “However, the decisions made can either be a model for public-private, interagency, and cross-sector coordination, or result in the perpetuation of conflict between fishing communities and developers and – worse – unnecessary damage to hard-working American citizens and our world-class marine resources.”

Photo courtesy of Fokke Baarssen/Shutterstock


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