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Vineyard Wind Project Receives Potential Setbacks

Sarah Mizes-Tan

Vineyard Wind's proposed 800 megawatt offshore windfarm received news of setbacks this week – most notably, a delay in the release of a final environmental impact statement from the federal government's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. 

The final statement was due at the end of this week, but has been delayed with no future relase date given. The company had planned to break ground on the wind farm at the end of 2019, but this delay could push that timeline back. 

"We understand that, as the first commercial scale offshore wind project in the US, the Vineyard Wind project will undergo extraordinary review before receiving approvals," a brief statement from the company read. "As with any project of this scale and complexity, changes to the schedule are anticipated." 

In the same week, Edgartown Conservation Commission members voted 5-1 against approval of a Vineyard Wind cable that would run under the water near their shores. Jane Varkonda, an agent for the Commission said the decision was a difficult one for the Commission, as members are all aware of the growing need for renewable energy. 

"Everybody is concerned about global warming, everybody knows that we need to get away from fossil fuels," Varkonda said. "But the commission at this point did not believe the applicant had presented adequate enough information for the commission to determine that there would be no long term or adverse impacts on land under the ocean." She added that members remained unsure about how the turbines could impact fishing in the area.

While Vineyard Wind partners felt that the project could still continue with little impact to its construction timeline, the two setbacks have worried other offshore wind officials, who say a delay from the federal government might not bode well for the incoming offshore wind industry. Massachusetts recently doubled down on its commitment to offshore wind in the region, when last month it called for the procurement of an additional 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind energy off its coast.