Cape Cod Times: “Concerns surface with plan to connect offshore wind farm to Cape electric grid”
By Mary Ann Bragg, Jan 10, 2018 –
WEST YARMOUTH — One of three offshore wind companies hoping to build wind farms south of Martha’s Vineyard is moving ahead with a plan to bring a transmission cable onshore either in Yarmouth or Barnstable to connect its turbines to the electric grid.
But local officials are considering issues they want addressed as part of a state environmental review of the proposal by Vineyard Wind, and opposition is forming.
“Our board still hasn’t taken any position,” said Tracy Post, chairwoman of the Yarmouth Board of Selectmen. “We’re trying to get our arms around the process.”
Selectmen will ask the town’s attorney to help them better understand the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act procedures and methods of obtaining information, Post said.
Barnstable Town Council President Eric Steinhilber and Assistant Town Attorney Charles McLaughlin said the town has problems with elements of the Vineyard Wind cable filing.
“We’ll be commenting on numerous concerns,” McLaughlin said.
Christine Greeley, of West Yarmouth, who has a home near Lewis Bay where one of the proposed routes for the cable is located, said the lack of scientific knowledge about the bay, such as bathymetric data, makes it a poor candidate for cable-laying.
“It just can’t happen,” Greeley said.
Vineyard Wind Connector project information
An export cable connection from Vineyard Wind’s proposed offshore wind energy project to the mainland in Barnstable or Yarmouth is being reviewed under the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act. A public comment period on the project’s environmental notification form has been extended to Jan. 30, at the request of the company. Copies of the company’s submission are available at Hyannis and South Yarmouth public libraries, and town government offices in Yarmouth, Barnstable, Mashpee, Edgartown and Nantucket. For more information go to the online version of this story.
The “Vineyard Wind Connector” project would bring cables, buried in trenches, through state waters to the Cape Cod shoreline from the 50 to 100 turbines the company is proposing to build offshore. Once onshore, the cables would be buried in concrete duct banks and snaked within public roadway layouts, a utility transmission right of way, a railroad right of way or possibly a bike path corridor, all leading to a new substation immediately south of Eversource’s existing switching station in Independence Park near Mary Dunn Road.
Barnstable officials remain open to discussions with Vineyard Wind, Steinhilber said. One primary concern is the amount of oil that would be used at the new substation, which could pose a danger as a contaminant to the nearby public water supply for Hyannis, he said.
One of the Town Council’s most important projects is to secure public drinking water sources for the Hyannis water system for the next 100 years, he said.
“We don’t want to get in the way of that, or jeopardize that,” Steinhilber said.
Vineyard Wind promises “enhanced protections to the Cape’s fragile watershed,” far exceeding the requirements of substations that have operated on the Cape for decades, Erich Stephens, the company’s chief development officer, said. A containment system would catch any leaks of transformer oils and the cables will not contain any oil, he said.
Vineyard Wind’s preferred route to the new substation goes through West Yarmouth, on the shore of Lewis Bay, with a sharp turn west into the town of Barnstable, near the site of the new substation.
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