BOEM Completes Vineyard Wind’s Supplement to EIS

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has completed a Supplement to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the Vineyard Wind offshore wind project, planned to be built off the coast of Massachusetts.

Vineyard Wind/Illustration

The Notice of Availability (NOA) for the document, which will open a 45-day public comment period, is set to be published in the Federal Register on 12 June.

BOEM plans to have the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) by mid-November and a Record of Decision (ROD) in the second half of December. Until then, the authority will also issue an OFD (One Federal Decision) Concurrence on Preferred Alternative in August.

As reported earlier, BOEM announced in July 2019 that the Final EIS would be postponed, after it was initially scheduled for August 2019. The following month, BOEM asked for a supplemental EIS to be provided. 

The supplement now completed is based, i.a., on input from state and local governments, federal agencies, industry, and the public.

The SEIS analyses “reasonably foreseeable effects from an expanded cumulative activities scenario for offshore wind development”, as well as previously unavailable fishing data, a new transit lane alternative, and changes to the Construction and Operations Plan (COP) since the publication of the Draft EIS.

The Construction and Operations Plan is still under review, with the decision expected to be made in December, at the same time as the EIS Record of Decision.

Authorisation in accordance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act, as well as the Clean Water Act and OCS Air permits are scheduled for March 2021. These are issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Environmental Protection Agency, respectively.

The National Marine Fisheries Service will also complete consultation in line with the Endangered Species Act, and publish a biological opinion in September of this year.

The Vineyard Wind offshore wind farm will comprise 84 MHI Vestas 9.5 MW wind turbines, installed some 22.5 kilometres south of Martha’s Vineyard and 56 kilometres off the coast of the Massachusetts mainland.

The project, a joint venture between Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Iberdrola’s Avangrid Renewables, was initially planned to enter the construction phase in 2019 and to become operational by 2022.

According to the developer, the offshore wind farm will not be operational in 2022, given the delays in the permitting process.

In April, Iberdrola said a detailed analysis was under way to review and align project plans and activities with the new timeline.