US East Coast Governors Urge Expediency on Vineyard Wind Decision

A bipartisan group of US East Coast state governors has urged the Trump administration to expeditiously complete the environmental review of the Vineyard Wind so that a Record of Decision for the offshore wind project can be issued by March 2020.

In a letter sent to the US Department of Interior and the US Department of Commerce, Governors Charlie Baker (R-MA), Janet Mills (D-ME), Ralph Northam (D-VA), and Ned Lamont (D-CT), and Chris Sununu (R-NH), express their concern that the delay in Vineyard Wind, the first large-scale offshore wind project in the US, could potentially undermine efforts to promote regulatory certainty for the offshore wind industry in the US.

”Recent technological advances and extensive public processes have now attracted some of the most sophisticated energy companies in the United States and the world to invest off our coastlines. This investment is a win for our country as it will not only increase our domestic energy production and further America’s energy independence but also create thousands of jobs – including manufacturing jobs – in our states and other states far from the coast,” the letter said.

As reported earlier, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) delayed the publication of the Federal Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for Vineyard Wind and requested a supplemental draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project. According to BOEM, the supplemental process is necessary to examine the effects from the many offshore wind projects that are expected to follow the development of the Vineyard Wind project.

”A decision regarding the first project undergoing environmental review by your Departments, Vineyard Wind, has now been delayed due to a decision to undertake an expanded “cumulative impacts” review of a greater build-out of offshore wind in the Atlantic,” the letter said.

”While we support assessing and mitigating impacts of large-scale offshore wind development, we are disappointed that this review has adversely affected the timeline for the Vineyard Wind Project. Like other industries, it is critical that states and the federal government establish and maintain clear regulatory timelines so as to incentivize the necessary capital investment. Further government delay would have negative impacts on this project, offshore wind development along the east coast and the further expansion of American jobs that support this industry.”

Vineyard Wind LLC, the owner and developer of the project, initially planned to start the construction of the 800MW wind farm this year. This delay could potentially cause the project to lose a portion of funding from a federal tax credit which is set to expire at the end of the year.

According to local media reports, Governor Baker said that his administration is in talks with federal regulators to extend the federal tax credit.