Vineyard Wind vies for second offshore contract in Mass.

Source: By Heather Richards, E&E News reporter • Posted: Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Even though the Interior Department is holding its current offshore wind project in limbo, Vineyard Wind submitted proposals Friday for a second contract from Massachusetts.

The Trump administration recently delayed Vineyard’s 800-megawatt offshore wind farm off Martha’s Vineyard to launch a fishing study for the Eastern Seaboard.

Of a slew of offshore wind plans in the works, Vineyard’s project — an answer to Massachusetts’ first call for offshore wind procurement — was the closest to permitting completion prior to the Trump delay.

Answering the state’s second call for offshore wind, Vineyard has submitted one proposal for 400 MW and two proposals for 800-MW projects.

“Vineyard Wind is very excited to submit these proposals, which offer significant job creation and port infrastructure investment opportunity for the region, while ensuring an attractive, fixed price for electric ratepayers,” Vineyard Wind CEO Lars Pedersen said in a statement.

Offshore wind policy in states like Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey has driven the nascent industry into overdrive in recent years.

Today just one offshore wind farm operates in the U.S. The pilot project Block Island wind farm went live in 2016 with five turbines turning off Rhode Island.

Vineyard was expected to be the first developer to complete a utility-scale offshore wind project, but in mid-July Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management failed to release an expected environmental review needed to advance the 84-turbine project.

Behind the scenes, NOAA Fisheries and BOEM had disagreed over the wind farm’s potential impact on commercial fishing, as first reported by Reuters.

Despite a direct appeal from Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R), Interior announced it would punt on Vineyard and perform a comprehensive review of how wind development may affect the fishing industry.

Vineyard’s wind project review is pending that fishing study.

Vineyard has said the Interior delay could inhibit its ability to hit deadlines, potentially derailing the venture. Its leadership has also said it remains committed to continuing the initial project.