Major US offshore wind farm project clears federal review

The prospect of the first commercial-scale offshore wind farm in the US has drawn closer after the US Interior Department completed its final environmental review of the proposed project.

Vineyard Wind is a joint venture between Avangrid Inc, a unit of Spain’s Iberdrola, and Denmark’s Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners.

The project is 15 miles (24 km) off the coast of Massachusetts. Once constructed, it is expected to provide power to more than 400,000 Massachusetts homes.

The proposed project would be located approximately 12 nautical miles offshore Martha’s Vineyard and 12 nautical miles offshore Nantucket in the northern portion of Vineyard Wind’s lease area.

The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)’s final environmental impact statement for the Vineyard Wind project will be published in the federal register by Friday.

This initiates a final 30-day comment period before it issues its record of decision of whether it will approve the project.

The project is understood to be a key marker for the Biden-Harris administration, which has set a goal to double offshore wind capacity by 2030 and decarbonize the power sector by 2035.

Last month, the Biden administration reversed a Trump administration decision that cancelled the permitting process for Vineyard Wind late last year and restarted the environmental review.

“The United States is poised to become a global clean energy leader,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary – Land and Minerals Management Laura Daniel Davis.

The offshore wind industry, which had previously complained about the slow pace of permitting for offshore projects and welcomed Monday’s announcement.

“A timely and effective permitting regime is a necessity in developing the generational energy and economic opportunity of offshore wind. With Interior’s announcement, we are closer to that reality,” said National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) president Erik Milito.

“Wind developers also need the certainty that comes with a clear timeline of future opportunities,” he added.

“It has been more than two years since the last offshore wind lease sale. Wood Mackenzie determined that new, near-term lease opportunities could support 80,000 jobs annually and generate $166 billion in new investment by 2035, but the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) must first open the door to new leasing.”