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Public weighs in on Mayflower Wind at federal hearing; would be state's second offshore wind farm

BOEM leasing.JPG
This graphic depicts the federal regulatory process for offshore wind. The gray bubble that says "you are here" represents the present status of Mayflower Wind, at the beginning of the environmental review.

Jobs, fishing, and concern for the ocean topped the short list of public comments Wednesday as the federal government launched its environmental review of Mayflower Wind.

The proposed offshore wind farm would be the second in waters off Massachusetts, following Vineyard Wind, which received federal approval in May.

About 55 people joined Wednesday’s online meeting held by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. It was the first of three public comment sessions for this stage of the review, known as scoping.

David Wallace, a clam industry consultant, said the distance between turbines is dangerously small.

“The real problem is that, at those very tight areas between turbines, we will not be able to fish within that array except on exceptionally good weather,” he said. “And therefore, we are being eliminated from traditional fishing grounds.”

Mayflower Wind has committed to space turbines one nautical mile apart; Vineyard Wind has already received approval for the same spacing.

Eagle Wu, CEO of Vinci VR, which developed virtual reality training for turbine maintenance workers, pressed for specifics on the number of local people who would be hired for the project.

“I know it was mentioned that about 14,000 job-years would be created throughout the lifecycle of this project,” he said. “I would like to kind of take note that job-years does not necessarily mean unique, individual jobs and workers.”

Jennifer Flood, offshore permitting manager for Mayflower, said earlier in the meeting that 75 percent of all operations and maintenance jobs would be local.

Only four members of the public gave comments; a few others asked questions.

Jerome Vigil, of Nantucket and Centerville, expressed concern that oil from the line carrying electric cables could spill into the water, but Jennifer Miller of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management replied that Mayflower’s cable lines will not have oil in them.

Additional public comment sessions are scheduled for next Monday, Nov. 15, and Thursday, Nov. 18. They are part of a public comment period that lasts through Dec. 1.

Comments can also be submitted online or by mail.

The environmental review is expected to take about two years.

The public will have another opportunity to comment later in the process, once the bureau has produced a draft of the environmental impact statement for the project.

Jennette Barnes is a reporter and producer. Named a Master Reporter by the New England Society of News Editors, she brings more than 20 years of news experience to CAI.