The owners of the Vineyard Wind offshore windfarm, the first commercial-scale project in the US, say they need a permit from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management as soon as possible if the project is to proceed as currently configured
In a statement about ongoing discussions with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) on the project’s federal environmental impact statement (EIS), Vineyard Wind said, “We met with officials from BOEM and learned that it is continuing its review of the potential impacts of the project before releasing the final EIS.
“We note that it is not unusual for there to be ongoing review of an EIS as it makes its way through the internal approval process, especially for a project of this significance.
“The National Environmental Policy Act requires an EIS to consider all best available information, which we believe BOEM has done. We are therefore confident that any remaining reviews can be concluded and an EIS released soon after.
“Through all of our communications with government officials, it has been made clear to us that there was no intention to prevent the Vineyard Wind project from moving forward.”
However, Vineyard Wind said it has communicated to BOEM that, for a variety of reasons, it would be “very challenging” to move forward with the Vineyard Wind project in its current configuration if the final EIS is not issued in the next four to six weeks.
BOEM has indicated that it understands the reasons for the constraint and will communicate this to the Secretary of the Interior, who is responsible for final action on the project. Vineyard Wind has also communicated to the Secretary directly about its concerns regarding the delay.
“Many stakeholders ranging from business organisations, small business owners, local construction unions, project area residents, and elected officials from all levels of government have reached out to us in recent days to reaffirm their support for the project,” Vineyard Wind said. “This broad support has only increased our already high level of commitment and confidence in the timely completion of this important energy project.”
The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) requires federal agencies to prepare an EIS to evaluate the potential impacts of a proposed project on its surrounding environment to inform its regulatory decisions. The Vineyard Wind project EIS provides a baseline for understanding the potential consequences of the project by identifying positive and negative impacts on the environment and discussing potential measures to mitigate impacts.
In April, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities approved long-term power purchase contracts between Vineyard Wind and Massachusetts’ electric distribution companies for clean power from the windfarm.