The U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has delayed the issuance of Vineyard Wind’s final environmental impact statement (EIS). According to Vineyard Wind, it received notice that the BOEM was “not yet prepared to issue the final Environmental Impact Statement for the 800-MW Vineyard Wind 1 project.”
The EIS is a mandatory document that sets forth the impact of a proposed project on its surrounding environment and informs the work and decisions of policymakers and stakeholders. For the Vineyard Wind project — planned for development off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts — the EIS is mandated by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 and requires advanced identification and disclosure of harm.
It provides a baseline for understanding potential consequences of the proposed project, identifies positive and negative effects for the environment, and offers proposed mitigation solutions.
“We understand that, as the first commercial scale offshore wind project in the U.S., the Vineyard Wind project will undergo extraordinary review before receiving approvals,” says a statement by the offshore developer. “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.”
The EIS is part of Vineyard Wind’s comprehensive public and regulatory review process that involves evaluation by more than 25 federal, state, and local regulatory bodies, including: the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the Army Corps of Engineers, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, the Cape Cod Commission, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, and local conservation commissions.
To date, Vineyard Wind has received permits or approvals from the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board, an independent state board responsible for review of proposed large energy facilities, the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act office, the Cape Cod Commission, the Barnstable Conservation Commission, the Martha’s Vineyard Conservation Commission, and the Nantucket Conservation Commission.
In April, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities also approved long-term power purchase contracts between Vineyard Wind and Massachusetts’ electric distribution companies for the delivery of clean offshore wind energy.