A huge wind farm off the Massachusetts coast is edging closer to federal approval, setting up what the Biden administration hopes will be a model for a sharp increase in offshore wind energy development along the East Coast.
The Vineyard Wind project, south of Martha’s Vineyard near Cape Cod, would create 800 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 400,000 homes in New England. If approved, the $2 billion project would be the first utility-scale wind power development in federal waters. A smaller wind farm operates near Block Island in waters controlled by the state of Rhode Island.
Vineyard Wind is significantly farther offshore than Cape Wind, a previous Massachusetts offshore wind project that famously failed amid opposition from the Kennedy family and businessman William Koch, among others, who considered it a bird-killing eyesore in their ocean views.
Supporters say Vineyard Wind, located nearly 15 miles (24 kilometers) offshore, is better situated than Cape Wind and uses superior technology with fewer and larger turbine blades. Under a preferred alternative being considered, the project’s giant turbines will be located at least 1 nautical mile apart, allowing fishing boats easier movement around the blades, officials said.
The Interior Department said Monday it has completed an environmental analysis of Vineyard Wind, with a decision on whether to approve the project expected as soon as next month.
Vineyard Wind, which is slated to become operational in 2023, is the first of many offshore wind projects that will help the nation “combat climate change, improve resilience through reliable power and spur economic development to create good-paying jobs,” said Amanda Lefton, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, an Interior agency that oversees the project.
[Matthew Daly and Patrick Whittle]