The Massachusetts Legislature has enacted bi-partisan legislation that will allow for construction of the interconnection between Vineyard Wind, the first large-scale offshore windfarm in the US, and the New England power grid.
The legislation was enacted and co-sponsored by Senator Julian Cyr (D – Truro) and Representative William Crocker (R – Barnstable) authorizing the Barnstable Town Council to grant an easement for a portion of an area known as Covell’s Beach that will allow for construction of the interconnection.
The legislative vote follows a host community agreement (HCA) between the Town of Barnstable and Vineyard Wind, which was unanimously supported by the Barnstable Town Council in October 2018.
The HCA includes annual payments to the town of at least US$1.534M per year in combined property taxes and host community payments, totalling a guaranteed US$16M in HCAs.
The Town Council has dedicated those resources to municipal water protection efforts. The HCA also includes US$80,000 for other work in the area.
“The landing of the Vineyard Wind transmission cable in Centerville will bring clean renewable electricity for thousands of local homes and businesses, and further establish our region on the leading edge of a clean energy future,” said state senator Cyr.
“Swift action on this legislation has been a priority for the entire Cape and Islands legislative delegation. With our vote, the Town of Barnstable will receive significant financial benefits and electric infrastructure improvements as a result of the project’s landing site.”
“I am very pleased the House has unanimously approved the Vineyard Wind easement for the Town of Barnstable,” said Representative Crocker. “This is another step in the legislative process that will eventually allow for the production of clean and renewable energy off Martha’s Vineyard. This legislation will allow for the creation of 3,600 new jobs for the Commonwealth and will annually reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1.68 million metric tons; this is a win-win for all of Massachusetts.”
Vineyard Wind expressed appreciation for the efforts of all Cape Cod officials, including the bi-partisan coalition of legislators who co-sponsored the effort. “Following more than a year of close collaboration between Barnstable and Vineyard Wind, we’re grateful for the efforts of Cape Cod lawmakers to enact bi-partisan legislation that allows for construction of America’s first large-scale offshore windfarm,” said Erich Stephens, Chief Development Officer for Vineyard Wind. “With the easement, Vineyard Wind can move forward with a programme that features minimally invasive burial techniques 30ft below the tideline with no disruption to the shoreline.”
Vineyard Wind still awaits a permit from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and is addressing a setback for the project when the Edgartown Conservation Commission voted 5-1 against agreeing a permit for the export cable. The cables had already been approved by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, but concerns raised by the fishing community in Edgartown led to the permit being denied. Vineyard Wind has appealed that decision.