Biden Administration approves first major offshore wind project in U.S. waters

May 11, 2021

by Paul Ciampoli
APPA News Director
May 11, 2021

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo on May 11 announced the approval of the construction and operation of the Vineyard Wind project, the first large-scale, offshore wind project in the U.S.

The 800-megawatt Vineyard Wind energy project, which will contribute to the Biden Administration’s goal of generating 30 gigawatts of energy from offshore wind by 2030, will 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 May 11 Record of Decision (ROD) grants Vineyard Wind final federal approval to install 84 or fewer turbines off Massachusetts as part of an offshore wind energy facility.

According to the ROD for the project, the project would deliver power to the New England energy grid to contribute to Massachusetts’s renewable energy requirements—particularly, the Commonwealth’s mandate that distribution companies (IOUs) jointly and competitively solicit proposals for offshore wind energy generation.

The ROD is jointly signed by and addresses permitting decisions by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the National Marine Fisheries Service within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Prior to construction, Vineyard Wind must submit a facility design report and a fabrication and installation report. These engineering and technical reports provide specific details for how the facility will be fabricated and installed in accordance with the approved construction and operations plan.

In addition to the May 11 announcement, since January 20, the Department has initiated the environmental review of two other offshore wind projects, and pursued additional leasing opportunities in the New York Bight.

The Departments of Interior, Energy and Commerce on March 29 announced a shared goal to deploy 30 GW of offshore wind in the U.S. by 2030.

At a White House forum, Interior announced the final Wind Energy Areas (WEA) in the New York Bight, an area of shallow waters between Long Island and the New Jersey coast.

The goal of the Department’s area identification process is to identify the offshore locations that appear most suitable for wind energy development, taking into consideration coexistence with ocean users, Interior noted.

The WEAs are adjacent to the greater metropolitan Tri-State area of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

Interior’s BOEM has identified nearly 800,000 acres as WEAs in the New York Bight. The BOEM will initiate an environmental review, with public input, on these areas in federal waters for potential offshore wind leasing.

In addition, Interior in March 2021 said it was initiating an environmental review of the third commercial scale offshore wind project by announcing a notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for Ocean Wind LLC’s proposed project offshore New Jersey.

Ocean Wind has proposed an offshore wind project with a total capacity of 1,100 MW.

 N.Y. stakeholders, including LIPA, adopt plan for power line for offshore wind farm

A group composed of the New York State Public Service Commission and more than a dozen stakeholders, including the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), recently agreed to and adopted a plan to build a transmission line that would link a proposed offshore wind farm to the state’s power grid.

In a recent episode of Public Power Now, Tom Falcone, CEO of LIPA, discussed offshore wind.

In August 2019, the New York Power Authority shared key results from a study of European offshore wind transmission models that will help guide New York State as it moves aggressively towards its offshore wind goal by and inform regional and national offshore wind development.

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