The Business Network for Offshore Wind, on behalf of its nationwide members, filed comments regarding the Supplement to the Vineyard Wind project's draft Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS). In its filing, the Network voiced support for Vineyard Wind's proposal and its commitment to install the project's turbines in a uniform grid layout with one nautical mile (NM) spacing between turbines in the east-to-west direction, and one NM between turbines in the north-to-south direction. The Network also urged BOEM to reject Alternative F, which includes an unnecessary 4 NM-wide additional transit lane that has significant negative impacts.
Last month, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) issued its Supplement to the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Vineyard Wind offshore wind project. In this Supplement, BOEM stated that it considers development of approximately 22 gigawatts (GW) of Atlantic offshore wind capacity as reasonably foreseeable. These findings demonstrate the rapid growth in demand for offshore wind over the past two years. It also emphasizes economic development and clean energy opportunities afforded by offshore wind, which should be valued over special interest groups attempting to block the growth of a blue economy in the U.S.
"Alternative F is detrimental to offshore wind lease areas and projects throughout the Massachusetts/Rhode Island Wind Energy Area. The Joint Developer Agreement Layout utilizes a standard and uniform configuration with 1x1 NM spacing and complies with U.S. Coast Guard navigational safety requirements." says Brandon Burke, director of policy and outreach at the Business Network. "The Department of the Interior should act in a manner consistent with the text and spirit of the President's June 4 Executive Order and utilize all authorities to advance the Vineyard Wind federal permitting process."
Careful adherence to the February 7 One Federal Decision permitting timeline is of the highest importance. The timely conclusion of BOEM's review is critical to the Vineyard Wind project as well as to secure robust development of future offshore wind in the U.S.
"By approving the full configuration of the Vineyard Wind project, the Department of the Interior will send an unambiguous message to investors waiting for the green light that the U.S. offshore wind industry is open for business," says Liz Burdock, president & CEO of the Business Network. "Investment will flow into shipbuilding, manufacturing facilities, port improvements, and grid infrastructure."
Globally, the first half of 2020 saw a record $35 billion in offshore wind final investment decisions, more than offsetting investment declines in biomass, onshore wind, and solar projects during the same period. Moreover, offshore wind's economic impact is expected to steadily increase, expanding to $1 trillion by 2040.
"The failure to issue an approval for Vineyard Wind could lead investors to conclude that it is unlikely that U.S. offshore wind projects can complete the needed permitting process. Seeing this continuing uncertainty, firms may elect to continue investing in more certain European markets, or expand Asian investments, rather than invest in the U.S.," added Burdock.
BOEM is scheduled to issue Vineyard Wind's final Environmental Impact Statement on November 13, 2020 and a Record of Decision on the project on December 18, 2020.
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