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Vineyard Wind breaks ground for first large U.S. offshore wind farm

Jennette Barnes
Vineyard Wind CEO Lars Pedersen speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony for Vineyard Wind 1, the nation's first large offshore wind farm. Immediately to his left is Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland.

In a milestone for renewable energy in the United States, Vineyard Wind supporters filled a big white tent Thursday at Covell’s Beach in Centerville for a ceremonial groundbreaking for America’s first large offshore farm.

They heard from Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, Gov. Charlie Baker and about a dozen others, who expressed gratitude that the day had finally come.

Vineyard Wind CEO Lars Pedersen said if someone had asked him three years ago what he’d be doing on Cape Cod in November of 2021, he probably would have said he’d been opening the completed wind farm.

“It didn't play out exactly the way I thought,” he said. “Back in 2018, we were trying to put the pieces of the project together. I think we all know the reasons why, and some of the challenges that we have faced in getting to this point.”

Without naming former President Trump, he referred to delays the project experienced under the Trump administration.

In May, the 800-megawatt wind farm received federal approval, three years after Vineyard Wind successfully bid for a power contract in Massachusetts.

Now, the opening is planned for 2023.

Jennette Barnes
Vineyard Wind CEO Lars Pedersen speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony for Vineyard Wind 1.

The wind farm will have 62 turbines, located about 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard. Today, the United States has seven offshore wind turbines: five off the coast of Block Island and two off Virginia.

Dubbed “Vineyard Wind 1” — because the company has more in the works — the new wind farm will have the capacity to power 400,000 homes and businesses and reduce carbon emissions by 1.6 million metric tons per year.

“And the best part of all of that is, we're just getting started,” Haaland said.

She highlighted the union jobs the project will create and its role in President Biden’s climate agenda.

“In order to keep our planet livable for future generations, we must get to net zero economy and make robust investments in sustainable economies, clean energy and climate resilience,” she said.

Some speakers remarked on the day’s warm temperature, near 70 degrees in November, as they spoke of the fight against climate change.

Jennette Barnes
After many of the dignitaries had departed, Lars Pedersen, left, and Kathleen Theoharides, state secretary of energy and environmental affairs, donned hard hats along with Vineyard Wind employees for additional photo opportunities.

Baker said Massachusetts isn’t stopping here.

“This is a great day, and I'm super psyched that we're first, OK?” he said. “But I want us to be first, fifth, twenty-fifth, forty-second, and fiftieth over the course of the next 30 years.”

Kathleen Theoharides, state secretary of energy and environmental affairs, introduced the speakers, who were seated on a stage under the tent.

After the program, they filed outside for a photo opportunity with shiny ceremonial shovels in a pile of sand.

A massive horizontal drill sat nearby, ready for construction work to begin sometime in the next few weeks.

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.