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Commonwealth Wind pursuing electrical cable landing at Dowses Beach in Barnstable

Dowses Beach
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A third offshore wind project is taking steps to land electrical cables in Barnstable.

Commonwealth Wind has filed an environmental notification form with the state seeking to land cables at Dowses Beach in Osterville. The cables would be routed underground to a new substation somewhere in Barnstable.

Barnstable Town Manager Mark Ells said negotiating a host-community agreement early in the permitting process would be better for the town.

“As you could imagine, with each permit that … they get from each agency, it's kind of like we have less leverage to go in there to get a host-community agreement, because they're already well down the road of getting their permits,” he said.

Host agreements typically include payments to the town if the project comes to fruition.

About a month ago, he asked the Barnstable Town Council to consider authorizing him to negotiate an agreement. But he withdrew the request because of objections from the public and because the Osterville precinct did not have a seated town councilor until the September election, he said.

“Now Councilor [Paul] Cusack is in there, and so I expect that this discussion will proceed,” he said. “I don't know what the outcome will be.”

Barnstable already has host-community agreements with Vineyard Wind and Park City Wind for cable landings.

Ells said his recommendation to negotiate is not an endorsement of the project, though he knows the idea of negotiating is frustrating for people who oppose the cable landing.

“I understand that at times it's frustrating, especially if you're not in support of the concept of whatever's proceeding. But that doesn't mean that we have the authority to prevent it from proceeding,” he said.

The town could not prevent the cable landing unless it convinced the state there was a problem, he said.

Barnstable’s previous host-community agreement, for Park City Wind, called for the developer to pay the town $16 million over 25 years, in addition to commercial taxes.

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.