In a major boost for Vineyard Wind, the U.S. Department of Interior announced Monday that a long-awaited environmental analysis of the plan to build the first commercial-scale offshore wind farm 12 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard is complete.
The announcement signals a sea change in the outlook for the emerging offshore wind industry under the Biden administration, and it puts the $2 billion Vineyard Wind I project solidly back on track to be first in the race to harness hundreds of square miles of ocean for the development of renewable energy.
“The United States is poised to become a global clean energy leader,” said Laura Daniel Davis, principal deputy assistant secretary for land and minerals management, in a press release Monday.
Completed by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the final environmental impact statement is due to be published in the Federal Register later this week, the announcement said.
Vineyard Wind I is a joint wind energy venture between Copenhagen Infrastructure Projects and Avangrid Renewables. The $2.8 billion plan to build a 108-turbine, 800-megawatt wind farm in federal waters south of the Vineyard has been working its way through the dense federal permitting process for the past three years.
The process had seen repeated delays and slowdowns. Late last year with the finish line in sight, project developers temporarily pulled the plan from the federal review process, deciding to wait until the Biden administration took office.
The project was quickly jump started again last month.
The final EIS still needs a signoff by the Army Corps of Engineers and National Marine Fisheries Service.
“Offshore energy development provides an opportunity for us to work with tribal nations, communities, and other ocean users to ensure all decisions are transparent and utilize the best available science,” said BOEM director Amanda Lefton in the Monday press release. “We appreciate everyone’s participation in the process and look forward to continuing to work with stakeholders on the future analysis of offshore wind projects.”
In a statement, Rep. Bill Keating also hailed the news.
“The release of this environmental review not only represents a leap forward for the Vineyard Wind project itself, but also a clear message for the stakeholders who have invested so much to make sure that the offshore wind industry has the educated workforce and facilities required to thrive in Massachusetts here,” he said.