Boston Globe: “Two big wind farms to rise off coast of Martha’s Vineyard”
By Jon Chesto, May 23, 2018 –
State officials and utility executives Wednesday picked the first company to build a wind farm off the coast of Massachusetts, a project with as many as 100 turbines 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard.
Vineyard Wind, a joint venture of New England utility Avangrid and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, beat out a proposal from Bay State Wind, a joint venture owned by Eversource Energy and Danish energy giant Orsted.
Separately on Wednesday, Rhode Island officials said they had selected Providence-based Deepwater Wind to build a 400-megawatt offshore wind farm off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. The location is just east of the Vineyard Wind project.
Baker administration officials said the 800-megawatt Vineyard Wind project is the largest single procurement of offshore wind power of any state in the country, though they also said it’s too soon to disclose its cost. Vineyard Wind has already applied for state and federal permits, and expects to start construction next year, with turbines connected to the grid as soon as 2021.
“We are really looking forward to being able to build the first large-scale offshore wind farm in the US,” said Lars Pedersen, Vineyard Wind’s chief executive. “We hope there will be more projects to come.”
The contract was awarded under a state law that encourages utilities to get more of their power from clean energy sources. The state is overseeing a similar effort to increase the amount of hydroelectric power supplying Massachusetts and has selected a different plan by Avangrid to build a power line through Maine to import the electricity from Canada.
The evaluation team for the wind power contracts consisted of representatives from the state Department of Energy Resources, Eversource, National Grid, and Unitil. State officials said the choice was unanimous.
“It’s a pretty big day for us,” said Matthew Beaton, the state’s secretary of energy and environmental affairs. “For us to be on the doorstep of the largest development of offshore wind in the nation’s history, it’s pretty cool.”
The turbines would be visible on the horizon from parts of the Vineyard and Nantucket, Pedersen said. While it has raised some concerns among fishermen, Vineyard Wind is unlikely to generate the kind of controversy that doomed the Cape Wind project proposed for Nantucket Sound.
Meanwhile, the Deepwater project will be known as Revolution Wind and is about 12 miles south of the Vineyard. It would be 10 times the size of Deepwater’s five-turbine project off Block Island, which in 2016 was the first offshore wind farm to come online in New England. Deepwater is backed by giant investment firm D.E. Shaw & Co.,
The Bay State Wind partners, Orsted and Eversource, ended up empty handed — for now. The state energy law passed in 2016 enables contracts for up to 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind, and Massachusetts officials expect to launch a second round of bidding next year. Orsted had opened its US office in Boston, in part with the hopes it would land Massachusetts’ business.
Vineyard Wind is considering two options for an underwater transmission line to the mainland: One would connect in Yarmouth, while the other would come ashore in Barnstable. Both would skirt the Vineyard by going through the Muskeget Channel, between the Vineyard and Nantucket.
That means the power line would go through Nantucket Sound, where Cape Wind had been proposed. Audra Parker, head of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, said the Vineyard Wind project is in a much better location, in part because it is further offshore.
But she said her group, which fought Cape Wind for years, worries that the transmission line would make it easier for another wind farm to be built closer to land. She said her group will seek a legal designation or federal legislation to prevent that from happening.
“We need to take that final step to truly leave a lasting legacy,” Parker said.
Reprinted via The Boston Globe which is not affiliated with the Alliance.