Project Update: Vineyard Wind Files Draft Environmental Impact Report for America’s First Utility-Scale Commercial Offshore Wind Farm

With MEPA filing, advanced state, federal and local permitting process timeline remains well ahead of other proposed Massachusetts wind projects

(New Bedford, MA) – Vineyard Wind took another significant step in its effort to build the first large-scale offshore wind farm in the United States by submitting the project’s Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) with state regulators. Today’s filing advances the company’s proposal to construct an 800-megawatt (MW) wind farm 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard while maintaining Vineyard Wind’s early timetable to begin construction in 2019 and become operational by 2021.

The draft report was submitted to the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act Office (MEPA), under the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. When Vineyard Wind’s project is completed, it will reduce Massachusetts’ carbon emissions by over 1.6 million tons per year, the equivalent of removing 325,000 cars from state roads.

Vineyard Wind is one of three proponents competing for long-term contracts with Massachusetts’ electric distribution companies (EDCs) and the only one to begin both the state permitting process, by filing an Environmental Notification Form (ENF), as well as the federal permitting process by filing a Construction and Operations plan in December 2017.

“Vineyard Wind’s early timeline is on schedule to maximize the abundant environmental, economic and energy benefits associated with utility-scale wind energy for Bay State residents and businesses,” said Erich Stephens, Chief Development Officer of Vineyard Wind. “The Draft Environmental Impact Report is an essential part of the permitting process and extensive environmental review that is currently underway. The process will ensure that Vineyard Wind provides substantial quantities of clean energy resources to Massachusetts while protecting the Commonwealth’s natural resources and being responsive to stakeholder input.”

Vineyard Wind will continue to refine the project design and approach as it receives additional comments from regulators and stakeholders. Vineyard Wind received a significant volume of substantive, productive observations from the fishing industry, residents on Cape Cod and the Islands, environmental organizations, as well as regional economic and community-based stakeholders, during the initial ENF comment period. 

Vineyard Wind has been especially focused on receiving input from the fishing industry, and has already held more than 100 meetings with fishermen or fishing organizations since 2016. Input from those meetings is reflected within the project design as part of a broad-based effort to ensure that offshore wind facilities and the fishing sector thrive together in the decades ahead. 

With passage of An Act to Promote Energy Diversity in 2016, Massachusetts required the state’s EDCs to procure 1,600 megawatts (MW) of clean, offshore wind energy within the next decade, resulting in intense competition among offshore wind lease holders for long-term contracts with utilities in Massachusetts. The addition of 1,600 MW of low-carbon wind generation capacity will provide enough clean, homegrown energy to power the equivalent of more than 750,000 Massachusetts homes every year. 

Rebecca Rutenberg