State waters in the Martha’s Vineyard and Gosnold areas that were designated in 2009 as possibly suitable for wind power projects, pending further study, were deemed unfit for large-scale wind energy in an updated ocean plan released Tuesday.
“It does limit the potential for commercial-scale wind projects,” Bruce Carlisle said of the 2015 update to the Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan, released by the state’s Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA). “But it also recognizes that a lot of work … has gone into the areas that were identified and that we continue to look at.”
Carlisle is director of the EEA’s Office of Coastal Zone Management. He noted that the plan, which last was updated in 2009, doesn’t preclude all wind development in designated waters in the Martha’s Vineyard and Gosnold areas. “Community-scale and pilot-scale wind projects are not similarly constrained,” he said.
The document, posted on the EEA’s website, states that “the 2015 ocean plan acknowledges that commercial-scale wind energy projects … are not suitable for the Martha’s Vineyard Wind Energy Area or the Gosnold Wind Energy Area.”
Carlisle said he expects heavy focus on federal waters in the region over the next five to 10 years. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is scheduled to auction leases for federal waters in the Massachusetts Wind Energy Area on Jan. 29.
Derek Santos, executive director of the New Bedford Economic Development Council, said Tuesday afternoon that he couldn’t comment in detail before having time to review the lengthy update. But he said the city continues to be well-positioned to serve as a base for the wind power industry.
“New Bedford’s strategic location as a home port for deployment, operations and maintenance and eventually manufacturing, is not at all dependent on the location of any one project,” Santos said.
The 2015 update of the ocean management plan, required by state law, includes new data related to ocean habitats and ecosystems; economic and cultural studies; new assessments of potential wind power development corridors and locations for collecting offshore sand to bolster eroding beaches; a proposed structure for ocean development mitigation fees.
Carlisle said ocean management “is a very dynamic environment” that’s constantly in flux.
“We’ll know a lot more when we have the federal auction at the end of this month,” he said. “Should the landscape change…we do have the ability to go back and update the ocean plan and do a siting process if we wanted to do large-scale wind in state waters.”
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