Renewable energy associations commend BOEM for timely conclusion of Vineyard Wind environmental impact statement

Source: By Chris Galford, Daily Energy Insider • Posted: Sunday, June 14, 2020

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) took the first step toward unlocking offshore wind prospects for larger segments of the United States this week, releasing a draft supplemental environmental impact statement on the Vineyard Wind offshore project.

In the process, the move earned praise from large renewable energy groups, including the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), Business Network for Offshore Wind (BNOW), and the National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA). This praise was owed to BOEM remaining on schedule, despite the COVID-19 pandemic that has thrown many workplaces and schedules into disarray.

“I plan to virtually raise a toast to BOEM for its commitment to staying on time and on target. Approving the Vineyard Wind project will unleash offshore wind’s economic power,” BNOW President and CEO Liz Burdock said. “Tier 1 suppliers will invest in the U.S. with cash resources currently sitting on the sidelines, waiting for the green light from BOEM. The final approval of Supplemental EIS this fall will have a domino effect leading to the construction of 9,000 MW by the end of 2030. It will also kickstart a decade that will see the creation of a multi-trillion U.S. blue economy employing thousands with family-sustaining salaries during a time the U.S. should aid millions of unemployed service workers.”

Following the draft, BOEM is expected to issue a final supplemental statement on the project in November, with a record of decision following in December. The Vineyard Wind Farm would be built 15 miles offshore of Massachusetts, providing as much as 800 megawatts.

“This first step will help our country catch up to other nations that are already safely and successfully operating offshore wind farms,” Tom Kiernan, AWEA CEO, said. “We look forward to reviewing the report and its implications and urge the Administration to finalize the assessment in a timely manner, allowing the American offshore wind industry to invest billions of dollars into the economy and create tens of thousands of jobs across the country.”

NOIA President Erik Milito shared the economic positivity, seeing the investments offshore wind could unlock as a sure path to recovery for the U.S. economy, which entered a recession in February. By allowing wind energy a place on the waves, renewable energy groups also contend that they can share space with other ocean users without sacrificing commercial fishing space or safe navigation, as other countries have managed.

“Offshore wind can be a pipeline of jobs and growth throughout America, especially along the Gulf Coast, where companies already have the expertise and experience needed to build a new offshore energy sector,” Milito said. “The Vineyard Wind project will be a win for the American people, energy development, and the environment.”