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Vineyard Wind Sending Power to the Grid

by Ed Burke and Kelly Burke, Dennis K. Burke Inc.


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In early January, Vineyard Wind had its first operational offshore turbine delivering five megawatts of power to the New England grid. The utility-scale wind project began offshore construction in late 2022.

When completed, its 62 wind turbines will generate 800-megawatts of electricity. The $4 billion project will generate clean energy for over 400,000 homes and businesses across the Commonwealth, while reducing carbon emissions by over 1.6 million tons per year.

The wind turbines are each spaced one nautical mile apart. The turbines are General Electric Haliade-X turbines, each capable of generating 13 megawatts of electricity. Electricity generated by the turbines is collected by an offshore substation prior to being transmitted to shore.

Vineyard Wind is located about 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, and about 35 miles from mainland Massachusetts. The location was determined through a multi-year, intergovernmental task force process, which carefully considered scientific data and public input. This area boasts powerful, reliable wind speeds and ideal site conditions to support wind turbines.

Two 35-mile transmission cables bring power from the offshore substation to the landing point onshore in Barnstable, Massachusetts. The cables are buried at about six feet below the seafloor using a jetplow. The route was selected after extensive geological surveys of the area to avoid sensitive habitats.

From the onshore cable landing site, the cables are installed underground along public roads to an onshore substation in Hyannis, Massachusetts. The Vineyard Wind onshore substation will be adjacent to an existing Eversource substation.

The project expects to have five turbines operating at full capacity early in 2024.


Creating Jobs

The Vineyard Wind project has already created 937 union jobs through two years of construction, delivering nearly double its commitment in job creation.

“When we say climate change is our greatest threat and greatest opportunity – this is what we mean,” said Massachusetts Governor Maura Healy. “Vineyard Wind nearly doubled its commitment in job creation. Massachusetts labor unions continue to lead the way in innovative job training programs and forging important partnerships with emerging industries. This is exactly the kind of economic development we are looking to foster.”

It’s not just about jobs. During its construction phase, the Vineyard Wind project generated substantial economic opportunities for Massachusetts-based businesses. Construction flows through the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal. To date, Vineyard Wind’s contractors have spent tens of millions with companies based in Southeastern Massachusetts, and even more in Massachusetts as a whole.


Legal Issues

There are three legal cases on appeal that challenge Vineyard Wind’s federal permits in the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Vineyard faced lawsuits from the Nantucket residents, a small-scale solar developer, and commercial fishing interests. Plaintiffs allege that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management failed to comply with the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act when Vineyard Wind was permitted. The U.S. District Court dismissed all three cases, and the plaintiffs appealed.

There’s more at stake here. Vineyard Wind is a legal test case for U.S. clean energy. Winning these lawsuits would clear the way for the Biden administration to meet its goals to boost renewable power generation while satisfying traditional environmental laws meant to protect wildlife and ecosystems. President Biden has committed to permitting 16 offshore wind projects by the end of this year. That idea is opposed by commercial fishing interests and conservative groups who argue that installing wind turbines harm marine ecosystems and endangered species.


East Coast Wind Projects

Vineyard Wind joins three offshore wind projects along the East Coast.

Block Island Wind Farm is the first commercial offshore wind farm in the country, located 3.8 miles from Block Island, Rhode Island. Construction began back in 2015 on the five-turbine, 30-megawatts project, and operations were launched in 2016. Block Island Wind Farm delivers clean energy to power 17,000 homes and businesses.

Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind is a wind project located about 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach, Virginia. The initial phase, a two-turbine, 12-megawatts pilot project constructed in 2020 generates enough electricity to power up to 3,000 homes.

The next phase is a huge expansion. Coastal Virginia say that they have 176 turbines under development. When fully constructed in 2026, the project will generate enough power for up to 660,000 homes while removing millions of tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.

In December of 2023, South Fork Wind in New York had its first operational turbine delivering clean energy power to Long Island. The 12-turbine, 132-megawatt offshore wind farm will address East Hampton’s energy needs, producing enough clean energy to power 70,000 homes and offset tons of emissions each year. The project has completed the installation of two turbines, with one operational, approximately 35 miles off Montauk, with all 12 turbines expected to be installed by early 2024.

“New York’s nation-leading efforts to generate reliable, renewable clean energy have reached a major milestone,” Governor Hochul said. “South Fork Wind will power thousands of homes, create good-paying union jobs and demonstrate to all that offshore wind is a viable resource New York can harness for generations to come.”

Ed and Kelly Burke are respectively Chairman of the Board and Senior Marketing Manager at fuel distributor Dennis K. Burke Inc. They can be reached at 617-884-7800 or ed.burke@burkeoil.com and kelly.burke@burkeoil.com.

March 2024
Renewable Energy
New England
wind turbines

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