Wind Project beginning lengthy environmental review

Boston Statehouse

Wind turbines are pictured at the Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island, which in 2016 became the nation’s first commercial offshore wind farm. (Chris Van Buskirk/SHNS/File 2021)

BOSTON (State House News Service) – The federal environmental review process for Mayflower Wind will officially get underway next week, kicking off a two-year period in which regulators and others will scrutinize the plan for up to 147 turbines in a lease area capable of supporting multiple projects.

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said Thursday that it will publish a notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) in the Federal Register on Nov. 1, and will hold public comment meetings on Nov. 10, 15 and 18 to accept input on what BOEM should focus on when reviewing Mayflower’s construction and operations plan.

That comment period will end Dec. 1. Mayflower Wind, the Shell and Ocean Winds North America joint venture, was selected unanimously by Massachusetts utility executives in 2019 to build and operate an 804-megawatt wind farm about 20 nautical miles south of the western end of Nantucket. The firm has also submitted proposals to develop another project for Massachusetts capable of generating up to 1,200 megawatts of cleaner power.

BOEM said the project it will review “would provide between 1,600 to 2,400 megawatts (MW) of clean, renewable wind energy to the northeast United States, including Massachusetts.” After BOEM issues its draft EIS, it will issue a notice of availability and again open a comment period. That is expected by January 2023, the agency said Thursday.

BOEM will then review and respond to comments before preparing a final EIS, expected in September 2023. A record of decision, essentially the final federal green light, would come no sooner than 30 days after the final EIS is issued, BOEM said. The second offshore wind farm to secure a contract with Bay State utilities, Mayflower Wind is scheduled to be in operation by mid-December 2025.

Mayflower also needs to secure state approvals, and an executive said in May that process was expected to get underway early in 2022.

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