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Draft memo requires town review for MA offshore wind leases

The town of Gosnold – on Cuttyhunk Island off the coast of Massachusetts – recently completed a draft memorandum of understanding with the state that requires local review before the state can finalize offshore wind leases in town waters.

The state’s Ocean Management Plan – published last year – identified ocean near Gosnold as an area ripe for offshore wind development. Gosnold town leaders announced that they would be willing to host a wind farm and have been working with the state to ensure their concerns are mitigated.

Under the draft MOU, which was obtained by Offshore Wind Wire, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) would agree to consult frequently with Gosnold regarding the wind farm. Additionally, under the MOU, EEA would ensure that sufficient funds are placed in escrow for the decommissioning of any development and that Gosnold “enjoys economic benefits from the wind project in the form of a contractual host community fee.”

“EEA agrees that EEA and its constituent agencies shall not issue any material documents pertaining to a wind project in the Gosnold Area without first sharing drafts with the Town and giving the town a reasonable opportunity to comment,” the draft MOU read. “It is the intention of the parties that no permits or licenses shall be granted unless the Town’s reasonable concerns … have been satisfactorily addressed.”

The MOU defines material documents to include leases, requests for proposals and permits. The MOU also indicates that the town’s rights would extend to state involvement with projects in federal waters that fall within view of the town.

State officials confirmed that they were negotiating a memorandum of understanding with Gosnold but indicated that they are also planning for larger offshore wind development.

“We have been working with island officials on an MOU that will memorialize the fact that Gosnold would be actively engaged in every step of any wind development proposed in its waters,” said EEA spokesperson Lisa Capone. “The focus of our current work, however, is with the federal/state task force on development of wind power in offshore federal waters.”