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Vineyard Wind project dealt setback; BOEM to look at cumulative impacts

Block Island Wind is the first offshore wind project in the U.S. DOE photo.

Vineyard Wind, the $2.8-billion, 800-megawatt offshore wind project planned for the waters off Martha’s Vineyard, has been delayed due to a Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) decision in August to undertake a broad study of the potential impacts of offshore wind projects planned up and down the coast. The BOEM decision to launch a “cumulative impacts analysis” and hold up approval of a key permit for Vineyard Wind until that analysis is complete will likely alter the schedule for construction of the project. Vineyard Wind officials stated publicly that the development remains workable and will move forward on a new timeline. BOEM said it had received comments from stakeholders and other federal agencies requesting “a more robust cumulative analysis” and decided to launch a more comprehensive look at offshore wind projects after federal officials “determined that a greater buildout of offshore wind capacity is reasonably foreseeable than was analyzed in the initial draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)” for Vineyard Wind. In March, Michael Pentony, the Regional Administrator for GARFO, wrote to BOEM raising several concerns related to the project. BOEM officials say they are operating within a review window that extends into March 2020. “Considering such comments, and taking into account recent state offshore wind procurement announcements, BOEM is expanding its cumulative analysis of projects within its draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to also include projects that have been awarded power purchase agreements, but may not have submitted Construction and Operations Plans (COPs), and potential scenarios based on state procurements that are expected to be awarded,” the agency said. The delay raises the question of whether Vineyard Wind will still qualify for the federal 12% Investment Tax Credit (ITC) which is due to sunset at the end of the year. Vineyard Wind had been planning to financially close on its project and begin on-shore construction work this year, put the first turbine into the seabed in 2021 and have the 84-turbine wind farm generating electricity in 2022. The project is backed by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Portland-based Avangrid Renewables.

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