Biden hopes to boost offshore wind as Mass. project advances

WASHINGTON (AP) — An enormous wind farm off the Massachusetts coast is edging nearer to federal approval, organising what the Biden administration hopes shall be a mannequin for a pointy enhance in offshore wind vitality improvement alongside the East Coast.

The Vineyard Wind project, south of Martha’s Vineyard close to Cape Cod, would create 800 megawatts of electrical energy, sufficient to energy 400,000 properties in New England. If accredited, the $2 billion project can be the primary utility-scale wind energy improvement in federal waters. A smaller wind farm operates close to Block Island in waters managed by the state of Rhode Island.

Vineyard Wind is considerably farther offshore than Cape Wind, a earlier Massachusetts offshore wind project that famously failed amid opposition from the Kennedy household and businessman William Koch, amongst others, who thought-about it a bird-killing eyesore of their ocean views.

Supporters say Vineyard Wind, positioned practically 15 miles offshore, is healthier located than Cape Wind and makes use of superior technology with fewer and bigger turbine blades. Under a most well-liked various being thought-about, the project’s large generators shall be positioned at the very least 1 nautical mile aside, permitting fishing boats simpler motion across the blades, officers mentioned.

The Interior Department mentioned Monday it has accomplished an environmental evaluation of Vineyard Wind, with a call on whether or not to approve the project anticipated as quickly as subsequent month

President Joe Biden has vowed to double offshore wind manufacturing by 2030 as a part of his administration’s efforts to sluggish local weather change. The possible approval of Vineyard Wind — one in all two dozen offshore wind initiatives alongside the East Coast in various levels of improvement — marks a pointy turnaround from the Trump administration, which stymied wind energy each onshore and within the ocean.

As president Donald Trump steadily derided wind energy as an costly, bird-slaughtering method to make electrical energy, and his administration resisted or opposed wind initiatives nationwide, together with Vineyard Wind.

The project’s developer quickly withdraw its application late final year in a bid to stave off attainable rejection by the Trump administration. Biden offered a contemporary opening for the project quickly after taking office in January.

“The United States is poised to become a global clean energy leader,” mentioned Laura Daniel Davis, a senior Interior Department official.

Vineyard Wind, which is slated to develop into operational in 2023, is the primary of many offshore wind initiatives that can assist the nation “combat climate change, improve resilience through reliable power and spur economic development to create good-paying jobs,” mentioned Amanda Lefton, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, an Interior company that oversees the project.

“The Biden administration is putting wind back in the sails of this vital new industry,” mentioned Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., a longtime cheerleader for the Vineyard Wind project. “Responsible development of wind off our coast (will) energize the economy, provide affordable electricity and move us further into a climate-safe future,” Markey mentioned.

Despite the keenness, offshore wind improvement remains to be in its infancy within the U.S., far behind progress made by nations in Europe. Besides the Block Island project, a small wind farm operates off the coast of Virginia.

Vineyard Wind CEO Lars Pedersen mentioned in an announcement that the company appears to be like “forward to reaching the final step in the federal permitting process and being able to launch an industry that has such tremendous potential for economic development in communities up and down the Eastern Seaboard.”

The renewable vitality business believes the Biden administration presents an enormous alternative for development, particularly in expediting offshore wind initiatives the business has lengthy sought.

“The offshore industry is on the point of taking off,” mentioned Amy Farrell, a senior vp of the American Clean Power Association, a commerce group for renewable vitality. The group expects 30 gigawatts of offshore wind vitality to be constructed over the subsequent decade.

Wind builders are poised to create tens of hundreds of jobs and generate greater than $100 billion in new funding by 2030, “but the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management must first open the door to new leasing,″ said Erik Milito, president of the National Ocean Industries Association, another trade group.

Not everyone is cheering the rise of offshore wind.

Andrew Minkiewicz, an attorney for the Fisheries Survival Fund, which advocates for the sea scallop fishing industry, said the group has concerns about the abrupt shift in attitude from the Trump administration to Biden.

The project appeared dead — or at least on indefinite pause — as recently as last year, “and the new administration comes in and says no, we’re going to go ahead,” Minkiewicz mentioned. “If this were not a clean-energy project, I think there would be an absolute uproar.”

Fishing teams from Maine to Florida have expressed concern that enormous offshore wind initiatives may render big swaths of the ocean off-limits to their catch. While Vineyard Wind is just not positioned in an space essential to the scallop fishery, different potential websites alongside the Atlantic coast may pose a significant menace to scallopers, Minkiewicz mentioned.


Whittle reported from Portland, Maine.

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