Vineyard wind project officially taken off the table for now

Boston Statehouse

Vineyard Wind 1 Offshore Wind Energy Project (BOEM.gov)

BOSTON (SHNS) – As far as the Trump administration is concerned, Vineyard Wind is no longer in line to be the first utility-scale offshore wind development in the United State.

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management officially declared Vineyard Wind’s federal permitting process “terminated” with a posting published in the federal register Wednesday.

Precisely what that means is unclear for the fate of a project that is supposed to deliver renewable energy to Massachusetts and had been in line to be the first major offshore wind farm in America.

On Dec. 1, Vineyard Wind announced that it had temporarily withdrawn its construction and operations plan from further review by BOEM, referring to it as a “pause [in] the ongoing process” that would not delay the planned start of clean power generation in 2023. But based on BOEM’s posting Wednesday, the federal government is treating the withdrawal as the end of the road, at least for now, for Vineyard Wind.

“Since the COP has been withdrawn from review and decision-making, there is no longer a proposal for a major federal action awaiting technical and environmental review, nor is there a decision pending before BOEM,” the agency wrote in the register posting. “Thus, in light of Vineyard Wind’s letter dated December 1, 2020, this notice advises the public that the preparation and completion of an [environmental impact statement] is no longer necessary, and the process is hereby terminated.”

Vineyard Wind CEO Lars Pedersen told E&E News this week that Vineyard Wind does not think it will need to start from square one when it resubmits its updated construction and operations plan and “that a reintroduction of the project in front of the agency can be completed in a relatively short period of time.”

The greatest unknown is how the incoming Biden administration will treat the project and Vineyard Wind. Before Vineyard Wind pulled its plan from review, a final federal decision on the project was expected in the final week of President Donald Trump’s administration, which Congressional lawmakers and some in the energy world have accused of being prejudiced against wind developments.

Many in the wind industry expect the Biden administration will be more receptive to the technology.

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