State Picks Vineyard Wind for First Offshore Development

HYANNIS – Vineyard Wind has been chosen as the state’s first offshore wind project and will be the largest in the United States.

The proposal was selected by the Commonwealth’s Electric Distribution Companies to move forward into contract negotiations.

In 2016, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker signed a bipartisan energy bill that authorized the largest procurement of renewable energy generation in Massachusetts’ history, including approximately 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind energy.

The 800-megawatt wind farm south of Martha’s Vineyard will generate enough electricity to power 400,000 homes.

Vineyard Wind Chief Development Officer Erich Stephens said he is excited about the announcement and that they are looking forward to getting to work building the offshore wind project for Massachusetts, the Cape and Islands and Southcoast.

“The next immediate step is to meet with utilities and finalize the contract that they have selected us to negotiate with them and get that approved,” Stephens said.

Vineyard wind will also continue with its permitting process, which is well underway.

“We look forward to getting more comments and meeting with residents and stakeholders on the Cape about that aspect of the project,” Stephens said.

Officials will also begin meeting with businesses and suppliers to discuss contracts for components and materials for the wind farm development.

The new industry is expected to spur economic development in the state and provide numerous job opportunities.

A recent report by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center found that the generation of 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind would create between 2,270 and 3,170 job years. A job year is defined as one person working full-time for one year.

Earlier this year, Vineyard Wind announced a $2 million commitment to job training and career development in the region.

Through the “Windward Workforce” initiative, Vineyard Wind would partner with local community colleges, vocational high schools and other institutions to train students to fill jobs on its proposed wind farm, along with future projects.

“I’m really excited about meeting with the voc-tech schools, community colleges, unions and others in starting up these programs to recruit and train area residents to work on the project,” Stephens said. “This really is the dawn of a new industry in the Southcoast and the Cape and Islands.”

The expected start date for construction on the wind farm is the end of 2019.

“The signs of it on the Cape will be in the early part of 2020 with cable installation,” Stephens said.

Preparations for constructing the turbines would begin at the end of 2019 in the port town of New Bedford.

Offshore work would start at the end of 2020 or the beginning of 2021.

Vineyard Wind was picked by Massachusetts over two other proposals, Bay State Wind and Deepwater Wind.

Through Massachusetts solicitation for offshore wind energy, the state of Rhode Island announced it would begin contract negotiations with Deepwater Wind on its proposed 400-megawatt development – Revolution Wind.

“It’s really the dawn of a new era here,” Stephens said. “Ever since the whaling industry died out, New England has had to import its energy from somewhere else and that is really changing starting today.”

Stephens said the fact that two projects were chosen today indicates that this is a new industry that may be here to stay.

“For the foreseeable future there will always be more than one project that is underway somewhere whether it is Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, or New York,” he said. “All of that activity will be impacting Southern New England in a lot of positive ways whether it be stabilizing energy prices, putting people to work and new opportunities for research and spinoff industries and, of course, all the career opportunities and job opportunities.”

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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