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Vineyard Wind begins laying cable south of Martha's Vineyard

Sarah Tan
Vineyard Wind broke ground at Covell's Beach in Centerville in this image from 2018.

Installation of undersea cables to connect the nation’s first utility-scale offshore wind farm to the grid has begun 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard.

Vineyard Wind 1 will consist of 62 turbines, generating enough electricity to power more than 400,000 homes and businesses.

The laying of cable is a slow process and requires two vessels: one to unroll miles of cable, and another to bury the cable below the seabed 5 to 8 feet.

The vessels move less than one mile per hour, and the process is highly weather dependent, Vineyard Wind CEO Klaus Moeller said.

“With two vessels following each other, you need to be pretty stable to actually install cable,” he said. “So we are hoping for not-too-big storms this fall and winter.”

Near-shore laying of cable is scheduled to start in the coming weeks. They will make landfall at Covell’s Beach in Barnstable.

Installation of larger components, such as turbine foundations, is expected to start in the spring, followed by the turbines in early summer, Moeller said.

Cable manufacturer Prysmian Group of Italy is doing the cable installation.

Prysmian says that for future projects it will make the cables locally, at Brayton Point in Somerset.

Massachusetts electric companies selected Vineyard Wind in 2018 as the first winning bidder for power contracts from offshore wind. The process was closely overseen by the state.

The winners in the two subsequent solicitations, Mayflower Wind and Commonwealth Wind, have asked the Department of Public Utilities for a one-month delay in the review of their projects so they can determine how to cope with rising commodity costs and interest rates.

Mayflower Wind board member and former CEO Michael Brown said one option is to raise the prices in their contracts.

“I believe that the contract would have to be opened if we were to amend the price,” he said. “We want to deliver the power, which is much needed, to Massachusetts. And we hope that we can still do this, and as cost competitively as we possibly can.”

It’s not clear whether the state will allow renegotiation of the contracts.

Mayflower and Commonwealth say they will also look for cost-cutting measures and new tax incentives.

Mayflower still has every intention to build, Brown said.

“Obviously, we have suffered some serious headwinds due to inflation and supply chain constraints, which are challenging, both for us as a developer and the state,” he said. “But certainly, speaking from a Mayflower perspective, we want to deliver this 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.