United States

United States

Appetite remains high in US despite Vineyard woes

Major offshore wind developers have bid in to Massachusetts' latest procurement for clean energy, easing fears the red tape strangling the 800MW Vineyard Wind site would scare them off.

While Vineyard Wind 1 awaits final approvals, Vineyard Wind 2 enters the pipeline
While Vineyard Wind 1 awaits final approvals, Vineyard Wind 2 enters the pipeline

Vineyard Wind's developers, a joint venture between Avangrid and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, have submitted a proposal for the 400-800MW Vineyard 2.

Similarly, Bay State Wind, a 50/50 joint venture between the sector leader Ørsted and a US Eversource and Mayflower Wind Energy, a partnership of EDPR Offshore North America and Shell New Energies US, also submitted bids to Massachusetts' procurement.

The Vineyard Wind 2 design features turbines in rows aligned in an east-west direction, with spacing of 1 nautical mile (1.85km) between turbines.

This is an important concession to local fishermen, who traditionally fish in an east-west direction.

Vineyard Wind 1's turbines are currently set to be aligned north-south, with narrower spacing between.

This point of contention with the fishing industry has led to crippling delays to the project.

Approvals

Meanwhile, the final government approval for the delayed 800MW Vineyard Wind 1 offshore project may not happen until December 2020, according to local media reports.

This would be too late for the US's first commercial-scale wind project to take advantage of federal subsidies, even if it is reconfigured to appease local opposition.

There is a move in Congress to extend the subsidy, but its future is uncertain.

According to Connecticut Public Radio, multiple sources said the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will not have completed a surprising and onerous "cumulative analysis" – including other offshore wind projects that have power purchase agreements – until the end of next year.

Vineyard Wind 1 is on a tight timetable. Apart from seeking maximum tax credits, it has contracted with three utilities to deliver electricity at $0.089/kWh starting in February 2022. The low price was in large part because of the federal Investment Tax Credit.

Critics of the decision have pointed out that oil and gas projects do not face as much review.

Presidential candidate, Senator Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts, said: "Despite [the project's] benefits, the Trump Administration has chosen to hinder this important project and continue to put corporate polluters' profits over Americans' well-being."

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