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Vineyard Wind dealt blows on two fronts: Edgartown commission rejects cables; feds delay EIS

The Edgartown conservation commission, in a 5-1 vote, has denied a permit for cables that would pass through the Muskeget Channel.

Vineyard Wind proposed to bury two 400 megawatt export cables one mile off Chappaquiddick from its proposed wind farm 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard to a site in Barnstable.

The cables had been approved by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, but at the Edgartown hearings fishermen pushed back strongly against them saying that the cables might have detrimental marine effects.

Vineyard Wind and their consultants, Epsilon, appeared stunned after the vote. No one from the contingent would comment on the decision. Later, Scott Farmalent, a spokesman for the project, issued a statement: “Vineyard Wind appreciates the efforts of the Edgartown Conservation Commission and local stakeholders for its very detailed project review process, which focused on a broad range of issues associated with the work contemplated in the Muskeget Channel…”

Meanwhile, federal officials have also put the project’s approval and overall timeline into jeopardy.

According to a statement posted on Vineyard Wind’s website, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is not yet ready to issue a final environmental impact statement (EIS) for the project. A decision had been expected Friday to clear the way for construction to begin by the end of 2019 on the 84-turbine wind farm.

“We understand that, as the first commercial scale offshore wind project in the US, the Vineyard Wind project will undergo extraordinary review before receiving approvals,” Vineyard Wind posted. “As with any project of this scale and complexity, changes to the schedule are anticipated. Vineyard Wind remains resolutely committed to working with BOEM to deliver the United States’ first utility-scale wind farm and its essential benefits – an abundant supply of cost-effective clean energy combined with enormous economic and job-creation opportunities.”

To this point, Vineyard Wind has cruised along beating out two other offshore wind projects with leases south of Martha’s Vineyard. But, more recently, the project has received considerably more pushback as the extent of the project became clear to fishermen and others.

Updated with Vineyard Wind’s statement on the federal process. This story will have more updates as they become available.