New Bedford, MA – Vineyard Wind announced today that it has adjusted the final turbine array for the United States’ first large-scale offshore wind facility by changing the location of three 9.5 megawatt (MW) turbines; the total project size remains unchanged at approximately 800 megawatts (MW).
The design change eliminates three turbines located near the Nantucket Historic District and Chappaquiddick, which comprises the eastern end of Martha's Vineyard. With this adjustment to the final turbine array, Vineyard Wind will create additional distance between wind turbine generators and important commercial fishing areas located just south of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. The redesign also will help facilitate transiting fishing vessels that travel around Noman’s Island before heading to fishing grounds situated to the southeast of the project.
The change is made possible by Vineyard Wind’s 2017 federal permit application which allowed for selecting among more turbine locations than actually needed for the final project, providing flexibility to improve the overall project design throughout the permitting process.
“By changing these turbine locations, we further address issues that have arisen through ongoing consultation with local communities and stakeholders, so we’re very pleased to provide this additional improvement to the array design,” said Erich Stephens, Chief Development Officer for Vineyard Wind. “Our on-going community outreach and discussions with stakeholders, which is intended to proactively address concerns throughout the project’s design and BOEM’s federal approval process, continues to benefit the project in meaningful ways.”
“Where possible, we have a responsibility to minimize the project’s footprint with respect to the history and culture of the Cape and Islands, and existing uses of these waters,” Stephens added. “Removing these turbines is another step in living up to that responsibility.”
Project changes made in response to community and stakeholder input include a 20 percent reduction in the overall project footprint following negotiations with Rhode Island’s commercial fishing sector and a range of measures to further protect the endangered North Atlantic right whale, including suspending pile-driving when the whales are detected near construction zones. The latter was part of a historic agreement between Vineyard Wind and prominent environmental organizations.
In addition, the company has proposed to install an Automatic Detection and Lighting System (ADLS) that will reduce the use of red, flashing aircraft warning lights to less than one-tenth percent of the time, or just a few hours per year. Vineyard Wind also has agreed to reduce visibility of turbines during daylight hours through use of white-grey paint, further limiting possible visual impacts on Martha’s Vineyard from turbines that will be located 15 miles from shore.
Vineyard Wind was selected in May 2018 to negotiate long-term contracts with Massachusetts’ electric distribution companies (EDCs) for construction of an 800-megawatt (MW) wind farm 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard. As the project continues to move ahead with public and regulatory review through more than 25 federal, state, and local approval processes, Vineyard Wind remains on track to begin construction in 2019. Once fully operational in 2022, the Vineyard Wind project will provide approximately six percent of the state’s electricity usage, and reduce Massachusetts’ carbon emissions by over 1.6 million tons per year, the equivalent of removing 325,000 cars from state roads.