BOSTON – One of three offshore wind developers hoping to score major Massachusetts utility contracts has made progress in its state environmental review.
Vineyard Wind LLC gained an Environmental Notification Form certificate for a transmission cable from a spot in the Atlantic Ocean to a substation on Cape Cod, the company announced Monday. The ENF certificate lists the issues that must be addressed in an upcoming Draft Environmental Impact Report.
Vineyard Wind plans an 800-megawatt wind farm 34 miles from Cape Cod. The planned transmission cables would travel 40 miles underwater and six miles underground to a switching station in Barnstable, where they would connect to New England’s bulk power grid.
In December, three entities – Baystate Wind, Deepwater Wind and Vineyard Wind – submitted proposals under the Massachusetts Clean Energy RFP. The solicitation seeks up to 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind power. The winner, to be announced in April, will gain valuable long-term power contracts with Eversource, National Grid, and Unitil.
Vineyard Wind says it is further along than its competitors, could begin construction in late 2019, and is “the only proposed offshore wind project in Massachusetts that has begun the process of obtaining state and federal permits.”
According to comments submitted to state regulators, various advocates have praised the project’s potential to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, while noting that construction could affect shellfish, fisheries, seabirds, and marine mammals.
Vineyard Wind’s preliminary certificate is the first step in a lengthy review process involving the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management,the Army Corps of Engineers, the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board, and other state, federal, and local regulators.
Vineyard Wind, based in New Bedford, is a 50-50 venture between Avangrid Renewables and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners. Baystate Wind, headquartered in Providence, is proposed by Eversource Energy and the Danish firm Orsted. Deepwater Wind, also in Providence, proposes its Revolution Wind project in partnership with National Grid Ventures and FirstLight Power Resources.
Each has a lease for a federal offshore wind area on the Outer Continental Shelf overseen by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. Public versions of the bids are available online.