U.S. and Massachusetts Agencies to Hold Public Meetings on Vineyard Wind Project During April

U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and Massachusetts Energy

Facilities Siting Board seek public comment on wind farm project

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Management (BOEM) and Massachusetts’ Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB) have each announced upcoming public hearings in April for the proposed Vineyard Wind offshore wind project, which will be located 14 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard.

The BOEM meetings, which will take place during the week of April 16-20 and the EFSB hearing, which will take place on April 24 in Hyannis, will allow members of the public to submit comments regarding the project’s environmental impacts and related issues.

The upcoming public hearings are the latest signs of progress for Vineyard Wind, which is the only offshore wind project in the US to have started the federal, state, and local permitting review process, putting the project well ahead of any other proposed US offshore wind project.

“We encourage members of the public to participate in these public federal and state meetings, which have recently been announced by the lead regulatory agencies,” said Erich Stephens, Chief Development Officer for Vineyard Wind. “Residents may also submit written comments directly to BOEM or EFSB if they cannot attend a public hearing, and comments submitted that way are given the same careful consideration from the regulators as comments made at the meetings.”

On March 30, BOEM issued a Notice of Intent (NOI) for preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed Vineyard Wind offshore wind project and also announced a series of public meetings that will take place during the week of April 16th. The purpose of these meetings and comments is to identify issues and information that should be addressed in the EIS. BOEM will accept written public comment until April 30th. 

The EFSB will hold a public hearing on April 24 in Hyannis and will accept written public comment until May 8.

Related permitting processes for the project, which includes reviews under the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA), are well underway. In February the MEPA office issued a certificate for the project’s Environmental Notification Form (ENF), stipulating issues that should be addressed in the project’s Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR), which is currently being drafted. 

To assist public participation in upcoming hearings and project application review, Vineyard Wind has posted information about federal and state public meetings and links to submit public comment on its project website, www.vineyardwind.com.

Vineyard Wind’s advanced permitting status positions the project to become the first commercial large-scale offshore wind farm in the United States, which will soon deliver significant economic development and clean energy benefits to residents and businesses in the Commonwealth.

The proposed Vineyard Wind Connector is comprised of subsea and subsurface electrical transmission lines and a new substation that will connect the Vineyard Wind turbine array to the Massachusetts electric grid. The Vineyard Wind offshore wind turbine array, located in the federal waters south of Martha’s Vineyard and 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, and no changes to the existing electrical transmission are required.

Vineyard Wind has stipulated that they will use solid material cables only, and that they will be buried for their entire length, and also that the transformers and other electrical equipment at the new substation will be underlain by full volume, impervious containment systems. 

Vineyard Wind is the only proposed commercial large-scale offshore wind farm in Massachusetts that has begun the process of obtaining required state and federal permits. It seeks to deliver the significant economic development and clean energy benefits of offshore wind to residents and businesses in the Commonwealth beginning in 2021.

In addition to the federal and state permitting reviews, the project is actively consulting with tribal and local agencies, including the Conservation Commission and Planning Boards of the Towns of Barnstable and Yarmouth.  The project will also be reviewed by the Cape Cod Commission.

In total the Vineyard Wind project will face substantial public review and consultations by nearly 30 federal, tribal, state, and local approval agencies, including from the Army Corps of Engineers, National Marine Fisheries Service, the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board, Massachusetts DEP and CZM, the Cape Cod Commission and local conservation commissions. Vineyard Wind also continues to engage in active conversations with the Wampanoag tribes.

 

 

Rebecca Rutenberg