Vineyard Wind has temporarily withdrawn its construction and operations plan from federal review. The delay likely means the Biden administration, not the Trump administration, will issue the final permit.
CEO Lars Pedersen said the company will resubmit the plan in a few weeks.
Though some observers have speculated that a Biden administration might issue a more favorable permit, Pedersen said Vineyard Wind had other reasons for revisiting the plan — namely, to make sure that switching to larger turbines wouldn’t prevent construction from starting in the second half of 2021.
“It was better for us to do a review now ... to ensure that we shouldn't have to do any changes past the final decision,” he said.
Vineyard Wind announced this week that it intends to use 13-megawatt GE Haliade-X turbines, which are about 150 feet taller than the previously planned 9.5-megawatt turbines.
Pedersen said the company has worked well with the Department of the Interior for three years, and he is happy to accept a review of the project from any presidential administration.
“We will continue to work with the good staff at [the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management] and hopefully get this to the finish line in the not-too-distant future,” he said.
A few weeks ago, BOEM updated the date it expected to issue Vineyard Wind’s final permit, pushing it to just five days before Trump leaves office.
Before Vineyard Wind announced the new turbines, New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell told CAI that the project appeared to be headed for some last-minute restrictions imposed by the Trump administration.
“It is apparent that they are trying to do something at the stroke of midnight at the end of the administration,” he said. “And so my guess is that there may be some restrictions, hopefully not too onerous, that will be baked into the approval of the project.”
Now, if the Biden administration issues the permit, the result could be different.
Last year, the Department of the Interior delayed a key federal permit for Vineyard Wind, saying the government wanted to conduct a more thorough review of the cumulative effect of proposed wind farms up and down the East Coast, including effects on commercial fishing.
Mitchell said many eyes are watching and waiting.
“Not only are we waiting here in New Bedford, but … an industry that has about $22 billion of investment in the pipeline is also waiting for this decision,” he said.