Around New England

Fast Track for Vineyard Wind Just Got Slower

July 12, 2019

The Edgartown Conservation Commission has voted to deny an application from Vineyard Wind to lay electricity transmission cables about a mile east of Martha’s Vineyard.

The commission voted 5-1 against the permit, saying the company has not shown that the cables won’t hurt fish and other marine wildlife.

Commercial fishermen questioned whether electromagnetic fields emanating from the cables might interfere with the ability of fish to communicate with each other. They also argued that laying the cables might hurt fisheries and that currents might uncover the cables instead of allowing them to stay under the sand, according to the Cape Cod Times.

The company needs the permit in order to transmit electricity generated by proposed turbines in the ocean to the mainland of Cape Cod and into the area’s grid.

Meanwhile, the company also hasn’t yet gotten a go-ahead from the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which was expected to issue an environmental impact statement for the project on June 7 but has since said it needs more time.

The proposed 800-megawatt wind farm would consist of 84 turbines in the Atlantic Ocean about 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard.

The recent developments don’t prevent Vineyard Wind from prevailing ultimately. In the case of Edgartown, for instance, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection can overrule the local conservation commission by issuing what is known as a superseding order of conditions. In addition, the federal agency may yet give the project a favorable report.

Yet the speed of the project is now uncertain. Company officials have said they plan to start construction later this year. But the absence of needed local and federal permits may delay the company’s schedule.

Supporters of the proposed wind farm say it would provide electricity in a cleaner manner than fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas, and coal.

Opponents criticize the public cost of government subsidies that make wind farms financially viable and the potential effect on wildlife.

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