Vineyard Wind says that it will request a superseding order from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to overturn denial of the project’s application before the Edgartown Conservation Commission. The company announced yesterday that U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management delayed the issuance of Vineyard Wind’s final environmental impact statement.
“Vineyard Wind always places a priority on working with local communities, and was fully responsive to all information requests received from the Edgartown Conservation Commission,” said Erich Stephens, Chief Development Officer for Vineyard Wind. “We are disappointed in the Commission’s decision, which was flawed, inconsistent with the evidence before it, and in contrast to the conclusions of many other regulatory authorities.”
The offshore developer stressed that the project provided the Edgartown Commission with a detailed, comprehensive filing, then responded to all additional requests for information.
Vineyard Wind unfortunately has no choice but to request a superseding order from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection,” added Stephens.
In addition, the Commission had access to the project’s Construction and Operations Plan, was provided the decommissioning section of the federal draft Environmental Impact Statement, received confirmation that the project would not impact endangered species from the state’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, and received a copy of all documents associated with the Environmental Impact Report certified by the Massachusetts Environmental Protection Act (MEPA) office.
The project was approved by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission in May 2019.
“Vineyard Wind is confident that a thoughtful deliberation of the wealth of available scientific information regarding the project will convince the DEP to issue an order of conditions that ensures local environmental protections while advancing a project that is poised to make a difference in an era of global climate crisis that is impacting New England’s shoreline and fisheries,” said Stephens.
Once operational in 2021, the project is expected to reduce Massachusetts’ carbon emissions by over 1.6 million tons per year, the equivalent of removing 325,000 cars from state roads.
To date, Vineyard Wind has received permits or approvals from the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB), 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. The state Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program has also determined that the project will not have an adverse effect on rare, threatened, or endangered species.
In April, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities approved long-term power purchase contracts between Vineyard Wind and Massachusetts’ electric distribution companies (EDCs) for the delivery of clean offshore wind energy. The developer has entered into a Host Community Agreement with the Town of Barnstable, and a Community Benefits Agreement with the non-profit energy cooperative Vineyard Power, which serves Martha’s Vineyard. Fishing representatives for the project include the New Bedford Port Authority, the Massachusetts Lobsterman’s Association, and the Martha’s Vineyard Fishermen’s Preservation Trust.