BARNSTABLE – The Cape Cod Commission’s review of a plan to land the transmission cable from an offshore wind farm on a Centerville beach and build a substation off Independence Drive in Hyannis is underway.
“Staff really has not taken a position on this project yet,” the commission’s chief regulatory officer, Jonathon Idman, said April 9 at the initial public hearing on Vineyard Wind’s cable laying plan.
The hearing by the Cape’s regional planning and regulatory agency was continued to Thursday, with the continuing opportunity for public input either in person or in writing.
The commission’s review covers only those aspects of the $2 billion construction project that are in Barnstable County, meaning the export cables in nearshore waters, an onshore cable duct bank and cables within and under existing rights of way and the substation. Ultimately, after further study, the staff will make a recommendation to the commission – which includes a representative from each of the Cape’s 15 towns, minorities, Native Americans, the county and an appointee of the governor – for consideration.
Vineyard Wind’s 84-turbine project is planned for 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard on leased, federal land but the cable laying and new substation will allow the company to deliver wind-generated electricity to the regional grid.
The company’s new substation is a particular focus of the review, due to what appear to be competing goals within the county’s regional policy plan, Idman said on April 9.
One “potential rub point” is the location planned, which is both ideal as an industrial area and not ideal as a groundwater protection area, he said. The use of cooling fluids, or dielectric fluids, in the volumes proposed by Vineyard Wind constitutes a hazard, and any release would put nearby public water supplies at risk, he said. As proposed, the company is planning a low-risk approach, with a containment system at the substation and water resource protections outlined in last year’s $16 million host community agreement with Barnstable, he said. Also, the town itself has agreed to set aside all the proceeds under the agreement in a water stabilization fund for future water infrastructure development, Idman said.
Another “potential rub point” is the six acres of land clearing needed for the substation, which would require, in theory, from Vineyard Wind an equal contribution of open space under provisions in the policy plan, Idman said. In response, the company has suggested that in lieu of an explicit contribution of open space in that industrial zone, any future public water wells in Barnstable – paid for from the host community agreement proceeds – should suffice, he said.
If you go
What: Continued public hearing on Vineyard Wind’s Cable Connector mandatory development of regional impact review by the Cape Cod Commission
When: 3 p.m. Thursday
Where: 3195 Main St., Barnstable
More information: Go to capecodcommission.org and search for “Vineyard Wind Connector” or call 508-362-3828.
A final point of potential conflict is that the seemingly ideal location of the substation in an industrial area also places it in close proximity to existing housing, Idman said. In response, the company is proposing landscaping and a wall to block views of and noise from the substation, he said.
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