NEW BEDFORD – The partial government shutdown has begun to affect the timeline for Vineyard Wind, though not necessarily enough to delay construction.
Two federal meetings have been postponed indefinitely: one in New Bedford on Jan. 8 and one in Narragansett, Rhode Island, on Jan. 9.
Others in Hyannis, Nantucket and Vineyard Haven will be postponed if the shutdown is still ongoing on Jan. 14.
The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management meetings were scheduled to collect public comment on a Draft Environmental Impact Statement – a required step in the federal approval process for the proposed 800-megawatt offshore wind farm.
Scott Farmelant, a spokesman for Vineyard Wind, said the company is paying close attention to the shutdown.
“We’re like everyone else: We just don’t know what to expect,” he said.
Right now, “we don’t see any reason for concern,” he said. “We have faith that the government will reopen.”
The comment period on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement ends Jan. 22. After that, BOEM is expected proceed to a final Environmental Impact Statement, which will inform further federal permitting.
In May, Vineyard Wind was selected to build the first offshore wind farm off Massachusetts. Three companies bid in a state-led procurement process run in cooperation with Massachusetts electric companies.
The wind farm would have approximately 100 turbines and begin about 14 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard.
Vineyard Wind is determined to begin construction this year because 2019 is the final year of a federal tax credit that was a component in the company’s successful bid.
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