Work starting on 1st commercial-scale US offshore wind farm

Source: By Associated Press • Posted: Sunday, November 21, 2021

BOSTON — U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland joined with Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Thursday to mark the groundbreaking of the Vineyard Wind 1 project, the first commercial-scale offshore wind farm in the United States.

The project is the first of many that will contribute to President Joe Biden’s goal of 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030 and to Massachusetts’ goal of 5.6 gigawatts by 2030, Haaland said at the event in the town of Barnstable on Cape Cod.

The first steps of construction will include laying down two transmission cables that will connect Vineyard Wind 1 to the mainland.

The farm will generate 800 megawatts of electricity annually, enough to power more than 400,000 homes. It will be built by union labor and create hundreds of jobs, Haaland said.

“Vineyard Wind 1 represents a historic milestone for advancing our nation’s clean energy production,” Haaland said. “This project and others across the country will create robust and sustainable economies that lift up communities and support good-paying jobs, while also ensuring future generations have a livable planet.”

In July, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management approved the project to construct 62 wind turbines about 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket and 35 miles from mainland Massachusetts.

The commercial fishing industry has pushed back against the wind farm.

In September, the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance — a coalition of commercial fishing groups — filed a legal challenge to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s approval of the Vineyard Wind 1 project with the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.

The approval of the wind farm “adds unacceptable risk to this sustainable industry without any effort to minimize unreasonable interference with traditional and well-managed seafood production and navigation,” the group said at the time.

The group said the current design of the wind farm project endangers the fishing industry by placing turbines too close together for vessels to safely navigate during rough seas, and does not address impacts to fish populations.

Another Vineyard Wind project — Vineyard Wind South — is also under development.

Offshore wind development is still in its infancy in the U.S., which is home to two small projects off Rhode Island and Virginia.