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APCC seeks more environmental studies for Vineyard Wind proposal

DENNIS – The Association to Preserve Cape Cod is seeking additional study on potential environmental impacts of the proposed Vineyard Wind project.

The 800-megawatt wind farm proposal south of Martha’s Vineyard, which could generate enough electricity to power 400,000 homes, was chosen last month as the state’s first offshore wind development.

The proposal was selected by the Commonwealth’s Electric Distribution Companies to move forward into contract negotiations.

In 2016, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker signed a bipartisan energy bill that authorized the largest procurement of renewable energy generation in Massachusetts’ history, including approximately 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind energy.

The association, which supports the concept of offshore wind and renewable energies to help combat climate change, recently submitted written comments to the state’s Secretary of Environmental Affairs Matthew Beaton identifying several areas which could be impacted from the construction.

“We want to make sure in the siting process though that enough information is generated about the potential impacts of the facility offshore as well as the routing of the cable that the environmental permits take into account the necessary safeguards that need to happen,” said Andrew Gottlieb, the executive director of the APCC.

APCC concerns include the impacts of the cable routing as it approaches the shore and possible impacts to drinking water from an onshore hookup area.

“We want to make sure that the disruption of public lands is minimized and that their transformer facilities are sufficiently maintained and designed in a way that should there be any type of rupture or spill that there would not be an impact on drinking water,” Gottlieb said.

Other concerns include stormwater impacts and the wellbeing of marine species.

Gottlieb said the public process by the state to procure this offshore wind project by seeking bids from multiple projects was more acceptable than the previous attempt by the Cape Wind project.

“This was not a case where you had the developer or the project proponent coming in and staking claim to public resources and saying ‘I’m doing it here,’” Gottlieb said.

APCC officials think the Vineyard Wind proposal is a serious proposal that addresses what the state asked for in wind production and makes a serious first attempt at dealing with some of the environmental issues.

“It is never the case that a project proponent, on their initial proposal has nailed everything right,” Gottlieb said.

Gottlieb said the organization is waiting before it decides to support the Vineyard Wind project or not.

“Prior to prejudging the outcome, we’ll wait and see what the information they are able to provide is and how they intend to handle environmental issues before we come out with a determination on whether we support this project in this location,” he said.

The letter sent to Beaton can be read by clicking here.

Vineyard Wind continues to move forward through the permitting process.