US Department of the Interior to delay Vineyard offshore wind project
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US Department of the Interior to delay Vineyard offshore wind project

By Jack Unwin and  By Umesh Ellichipuram 12 Aug 2019 (Last Updated August 12th, 2019 12:46)

The US Department of the Interior (DOI) has decided to delay the proposed large-scale offshore wind project, Vineyard Wind, off Massachusetts.

US Department of the Interior to delay Vineyard offshore wind project
America’s first major offshore windfarm is under threat due to delays Credit: Nicholas Doherty on Unsplash.

The US Department of the Interior (DOI) has decided to further delay the Vineyard Wind project off the coast of Massachusetts, the first large-scale offshore wind project in the US.

The federal agency has allowed the delay for a supplemental study to be conducted on the $2.8bn project, which is proposed by Avangrid and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners.

Vineyard had previously been delayed since April 2019 due to an inter-departmental dispute between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) on whether the project adequately addressed the concerns of the local fishing industry.

This time the Department of Interior (DOI) has authorised a further study in order to study any impact the windfarm might have on coastal communities that are opposed to the project. DOI secretary David Bernhardt told Bloomberg: “For offshore wind to thrive on the outer continental shelf, the federal government has to dot their I’s and cross their T’s.”

The developers have warned that Vineyard windfarm is now under threat due to these delays. It was initially supposed to be completed in 2021 and would have benefited from a tax credit that allowed the windfarm to sell power to Massachusetts utility groups for $65 per megawatt-hour (MWh). If the construction is delayed any further then it may lose this tax credit, jeopardising the project.

Vineyard wind delay reaction

Vineyard Wind wrote in a statement: “The federal government’s decision to further delay the approval of the FEIS for the Vineyard Wind 1 project comes as a surprise and disappointment. […]

“We urge the federal government to complete the review of Vineyard Wind 1 as quickly as possible. The project is poised to kick-start a new offshore wind industry that promises industrial growth along with new manufacturing and blue-collar employment across the United States from New England to Louisiana to Colorado and beyond.”

American Wind Energy Association CEO Tom Kiernan said: “The Department of the Interior’s regrettable decision to further delay the review of the Vineyard Wind project undermines the Trump Administration’s American energy dominance agenda and a major US economic growth opportunity. Offshore wind development is expected to result in a $70 billion investment into the American energy supply chain.

“The clear value of offshore wind to generate large amounts of home-grown clean energy, grow tens of thousands of American jobs, and reinvigorate coastal infrastructure can’t be overlooked.”

Massachusetts attorney general Maura Healey tweeted: “This is extremely disappointing to ratepayers and those working to advance the offshore wind industry.

“Vineyard wind will deliver good-paying jobs while helping address our climate crisis. We will review our options to ensure this project moves forward.”

The 800MW Vineyard Wind project has an 800MW capacity and will be able to generate enough energy for 400,000 homes in the region and offset 1.6 million tonnes of carbon emissions every year.