CENTERVILLE – With a final environmental impact decision from the federal government pending, Vineyard Wind representatives met with the community again Thursday to shed light on preliminary construction plans for Covell Beach, where they plan to install high-voltage electricity transmission cables on Barnstable’s southern shoreline.
Nathaniel Mayo, Vineyard Wind’s policy and development manager, presented plans for the offshore wind farm – slated for federal waters roughly 14 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard – to the public at Centerville Public Library.
“This is trying to focus a little more on local impact and local benefit,” he said. “Vineyard Wind as a whole is a really big project.”
The town of Barnstable has negotiated a host community agreement with Vineyard Wind that, among other things, includes provisions to help protect the water resources associated with a new substation off Independence Way, according to Mayo.
Vineyard Wind has pledged to repave the Covell Beach parking lot, half of which will be used for equipment and staging during the offseason. The town also requested a reconstruction of the beach bathhouse through the agreement.
Vineyard Wind has received approval from the state Energy Facilities Siting Board to land the high-voltage cables at Covell Beach in Centerville and connect them to the substation. The cables will be installed using “horizontal directional drilling,” a minimally invasive method in which a hole would be bored roughly 30 feet below the beach.
Those present for the meeting received the project favorably.
“I’m for this project,” said Robert Lewsen, of Centerville. “We’ve procrastinated so long we’re behind the whole world. You can’t go anywhere in Europe without seeing wind turbines.”
John Boyle, a member of Barnstable’s energy and infrastructure committee, said he doesn’t believe the construction work will be too disruptive.
“There will be some impact of course,” he said. “There always is with this kind of technology, but I don’t think it’s going to be anything unmanageable.”
“They’ve had many meetings and they’re open to questions,” Boyle said of Vineyard Wind.
Although the project got a warm reception Thursday, it isn’t without its detractors.
Centerville Concerned Citizens, a group opposed to the installation of 5G antennas on residential roads, has raised some red flags on its community Facebook page. Denise Dandrea, a Centerville native who is now summer resident, has organized a petition against plans for the Covell Beach installation. The petition has garnered more than 150 signatures.
Vineyard Wind has signed contracts to sell 800 megawatts of electricity annually to three electricity distributors in Massachusetts, and intends to break ground on the $2 billion wind farm later this year in an effort to take advantage of expiring federal investment tax credits.
The wind farm itself is to be built on leased federal land 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard. The farm is being permitted by federal agencies, but the cables will need to pass along land under state and local control.
The offshore wind company has already secured permits from the Cape Cod Commission and the Barnstable Conservation Commission to operate the wind farm. The 84-turbine wind farm would be the first large-scale offshore wind farm in the country.
Onshore construction is expected to begin in the fall, and offshore work is slated for early 2020, Mayo said. Assuming no major delays, the project is expected to be completed by 2021.
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