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A Commitment to Barnstable and the region
Vineyard Wind will be located 35 miles south of Barnstable’s shores on the outer continental shelf. It will generate clean, renewable, cost-competitive energy for over 400,000 homes and businesses across Cape Cod, the Islands, and Massachusetts, while reducing carbon emissions by over 1.6 million tons per year. The project’s transmission cables make landfall beneath Covell’s Beach in Centerville, a village of Barnstable, and connects to the electricity grid in Independence Park adjacent to existing substation infrastructure.
Vineyard Wind continues to work closely with the Town of Barnstable to minimize short-term construction impacts to residents and the environment while maximizing long-term benefits for the community.
Host Community Agreement
Protecting Town and Residents Interests
After months of discussions with town staff and numerous public meetings, Vineyard Wind and the Town of Barnstable entered into a Host Community Agreement (HCA) to provide protection, predictability, and revenue for the town of Barnstable. Provisions include the following:
No Development in Nantucket Sound: Vineyard Wind’s turbines will be located outside of Nantucket Sound, over 35 miles south of the town of Barnstable
Offseason Construction: The HCA ensures that Vineyard Wind’s work along public rights of way will occur during off-season to minimize disruption to neighborhoods, traffic, and beachgoers.
Benefits for Beachgoers: Under the HCA, the beach and parking lot remain accessible throughout construction. Vineyard Wind will provide funds to construct a new bath house and, after construction is complete, the entire beach parking lot will be repaved.
Underground Cables Protected: Cable connecting Vineyard Wind to the mainland are buried deep below the beach (~30 feet deep at the tideline) and encased in cement under roads. The cable will be permanently out of the human environment and will pose no risk to public safety.
Revenue for Barnstable: Barnstable will receive tens of millions in property tax revenue over the life of the project and an additional $16 million in host community payments which the town has dedicated to its water stabilization fund.
Collaboration on Project Design: The Town of Barnstable and Vineyard Wind have collaborated closely on project design, ensuring that all aspects of the project in Barnstable include public safety and environmental protections above and beyond state-mandated standards.
In addition, Barnstable and Vineyard Wind are collaborating on the town’s sewer effort, and plan to co-locate sewer infrastructure along the cable route, saving the town millions in road construction costs, minimizing need for future road construction, and working to address significant local environmental concern of wastewater loading in the town’s bays, estuaries, and ponds.
The full HCA can be found here.
Invisible, Common, Proven Technology
Burying cables is a standard and safe method to protect cables and dramatically reduces magnetic field strength as well as risk of exposure, damage, and fishing gear hangs. It is a newer technology and much preferred over the older and more disruptive methods of trenching. There are currently six submarine cables beneath Nantucket Sound. Two cables serve Nantucket’s electricity needs. One was installed in 2015 using a similar method (Horizontal Directional Drilling) at Kalmus Beach in Hyannis and another was installed in Harwich. Similar cables connect Martha’s Vineyard to the electric grid in Falmouth. While not all cables in the ocean are buried, it is the safest option.
From the turbine array to land, Vineyard Wind will bury the two 10-inch diameter submarine cables approximately 330 feet apart along the entire 35-mile route corridor. Each cable is 220 kilovolts AC and will be installed up to 6 feet below the stable seabed using a jetplow. A jetplow vehicle travels slowly along the seafloor on two tracks and uses pressurized water jets to temporarily soften the seabed into which the cable sinks and the trench backfills. The physics are similar to standing barefoot on a beach with your feet sinking into the sand as the waves wash over them. The jetplow ensures a very narrow disruption of the seabed (six-foot corridor) as well as quick recovery due to the trench backfilling immediately.
The cables and all related infrastructure will be fully buried below the beach and parking lot using a technology called Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD).
HDD is used to make a small hole beginning in the parking lot, installing a conduit (steel tube) deep below the beach with no surface disruption, going up to 30 feet below the beach, to ensure that the cable and its installation are kept out of the human environment.
Cables and all infrastructure are buried from the windfarm, to shore, in Barnstable roads, and to the substation in Hyannis. There will be no above ground infrastructure in Barnstable roads or at Covell’s Beach.
HDD is a well-established technology used to bury cables throughout the world. In fact, the Cape currently hosts six (6) buried cables that supply power to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. One of these is located at Kalmus Beach in Hyannis and was installed in 2005 using HDD to power Nantucket.
All work at Covell’s Beach and in Barnstable roads will be done in the off-season, per agreements with the town.
Environmental impacts have been extensively studied by multiple local, state and federal agencies. Vineyard Wind must secure over 30 permits from various agencies before work can commence.
Due to the fact that the cables are buried, there is no measurable Electromagnetic Field (EMF). However, all electricity creates a Magnetic Field (MF) and the modeled studies demonstrate that the MF created by VW’s cable is comparable to that emitted by everyday household appliances.
Will wildlife and surrounding ecosystems be affected?
Vineyard Wind filings have been extensively reviewed by dozens of agencies at all levels of government, including the Department of Environmental Protection, the state Energy Facilities Siting Board, the Cape Cod Commission, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and others. Vineyard Wind is required to:
avoid any impacts to spawning horseshoe crabs and their nests
remain entirely outside of mapped habitat of Piping Plovers
meet performance standards for coastal dunes
avoid mapped habitat of eelgrass
Will drilling fluids be contained at Covell’s beach parking lot?
The drilling process (HDD) uses water. Naturally occurring clay, known as bentonite, is present in the earth and so muddy water discharged from drilling will be captured and filtered prior to disposal offsite. The cables themselves contain no fluids and once construction is complete, there will be no fluids of any kind present as part of the infrastructure.
Are there fluids in the duct banks and cables?
Connecting to the Electric Grid: Independence Park, Hyannis
From the parking lot, the cables will be buried beneath town roads and encased in concrete. There are hundreds of miles of cable beneath roads under dozens of towns in Massachusetts and on the Cape, including Falmouth, Harwich, and Barnstable.
The cables will connect to the grid adjacent to an existing substation in Independence Park in Hyannis.
How long will it take to bury cables in the roadways?
A little over 5 miles of road construction is expected to progress at 100-200 ft per day. In-road and beach construction will not occur during the Summer.
Will there be a traffic management plan available?
Yes. A draft plan has been proposed, and Vineyard Wind is working with the Town of Barnstable, local police departments, and the town DPW to create a comprehensive traffic plan to minimize impacts.
Will sea level rise and regular flooding affect the cables or duct banks?
The cable is heavily insulated and the onshore duct bank is buried securely within concrete. Duct banks are also specifically designed to operate in wet conditions. They remain safe and operable during periods of storm flooding.
Frequently Asked Questions
+ Will turbines be visible from Barnstable?
No. The wind turbines will be located 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket and over 35 miles from Barnstable’s coastline. They will be located in a federally designated wind lease area.
+ What is the timeline for construction?
Off-season road construction is expected to start in late fall and proceed until spring. Work near the shore is expected to be 9-12 weeks. Onshore construction is scheduled to take place during the course of two off-season periods. Between construction periods in the summer, construction areas in the parking lot will be covered temporarily. The parking lot will be fully repaved upon completion.
+ Will this project impede future utility projects necessary in town?
To the contrary, Vineyard Wind and town Staff are working closely to co-locate sewer infrastructure along with the project. By working with the town on this initiative, necessary sewer efforts will be sped up, and the town will see save significant savings in engineering and construction costs. Doing both the sewer and cable work concurrently will also reduce traffic congestion by reducing necessary road closures.
+ There is heavy traffic in the summer. Will this make it worse?
No. As part of our agreement with the Town of Barnstable, no work will occur in roadways or the parking lot during the summer months.
+ Residents enjoy the beach in winter too. Will I have access?
Yes. No work will occur in roads or in the parking lot during the summer, and additionally, a large portion of the lot will remain open for use at all times, even during construction.
+ What will the roads and parking lot look like after construction?
Equipment will be installed entirely underground. After the work is completed, the only visible remnants will be two manhole covers in the parking lot. There are two underground concrete duct banks that will be buried below the parking lot. There are no fluids in the cables or duct banks and no transformer station at the beach. The parking lot and roadways will be repaved upon completion.
+ What will I be able to see of the project?
Essentially, once construction is complete, there will be no visible infrastructure. The onshore portions will be several feet below the roadway and encased in concrete; the cables under Covell’s beach will be buried very deeply using a technology called horizontal directional drill (HDD); this technique is commonly used to achieve deep burial and eliminate coastal impacts. At the tideline, cable will be about 30 feet underground.
+ Will the beach be dug up? What if the cable becomes exposed?
By using Horizontal Directional Drill methods, cable installation can begin in and under the parking lot, travelling underground to a maximum depth of 30 feet at the tideline, and heading approximately 1000 feet offshore. This eliminates disturbance to the beach or the nearshore area. Deep and permanent burial will also mean that the cables pose virtually no risk of exposure.
+ How long will construction be?
Work in the parking lot is expected to take 9-12 weeks. In-road construction will move along steadily at 100-200 feet per day.
+ What is the EMF exposure?
Due to the fact that the cables are buried, there is no Electric Field. The magnetic fields at ground level will be very low - a small fraction of what is seen from overhead power lines, and far smaller than the earth’s natural magnetic field. Magnetic fields are different from “RF” fields given off by cell phones, microwaves, etc. Levels of magnetism are comparable to those from various household appliances, and they are also a small fraction of the natural magnetic field given off by the earth. EMF has been extensively modeled and reviewed by numerous agencies, including the Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the state’s Energy Facilities Siting Board. Our analysis is a “maximum impact” study, not taking into.
+ How is the cable protected?
The onshore cable will be insulated, surrounded by steel sheathing, encased in concrete, and buried approximately 3 feet under the roadway and deeper at the beachside portions of the cable.
+ What modeling or studies have been done on magnetic fields (MF)?
This has been extensively modeled and reviewed by numerous agencies, including the Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the state’s Energy Facilities Siting Board.
+ Is this project being reviewed?
Vineyard Wind has submitted extensive filings which have been extensively reviewed by dozens of agencies at all levels of government, including the MA Department of Environmental Protection, the Energy Facilities Siting Board, US Environmental Protection Agency, the MA Division of Marine Fisheries, MA Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Cape Cod Commission. In addition to extensive and ongoing work with Barnstable staff, the Barnstable Conservation Commission reviewed and approved the project in May.
+ Why is this project allowed to go forward in Barnstable if it was denied in Yarmouth?
Of the two proposed options for landfall, Barnstable proved to be the best option. The installation method that was proposed in Yarmouth and the circumstances there were different from Covell’s beach in a number of ways. HDD was not feasible there due to geographical constraints. Since HDD was not possible, there were also concerns about cable placement impeding any future dredging efforts that might be necessary in Lewis Bay.
+ What does Barnstable gain from this?
The Host Community Agreement resulted in significant funding to the town, but also ensures protections for town residents. The HCA was the result of many months of meetings and discussion in the town of Barnstable, and the town manager and town council took up the issue in public meetings on several occasions. They arrived at an agreement that protects public health and water resources, minimizes neighborhood disturbance, and provides resources and predictability to the town and its residents.
In addition, at the town’s request, Vineyard Wind has agreed to fully repave the Covell’s beach parking lot, and provide funding for a new bath house at the beach.
Vineyard Wind is also coordinating closely with the town’s Department of Public Works, so that they may install in-road sewer utilities concurrently where possible. The town estimates this will save $3- $4 million on road construction costs and reduce the need for future road work.