Vineyard Wind’s Timeline Slips as Trump Administration Further Delays Permits

Vineyard Wind’s trailblazing offshore wind farm for
Massachusetts will not reach completion in 2022, with the developer
bowing to reality after the federal government confirmed a
later-than-hoped permitting deadline for the project.

Last week the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), which
oversees offshore wind seabed leases, quietly published an
updated timeline
for its outstanding permitting decisions for
Vineyard’s 800-megawatt project.

Initially slated for completion in two phases in 2021-22, the
$2.8 billion project
hit a snag
last August when BOEM decided to conduct additional
studies on the cumulative impact of the growing list of offshore
wind projects planned for U.S. waters.

As of last November, Avangrid, co-owner of the project alongside
Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, was still holding out hope that
the additional studies could be finished by the end of 2019, with a
final decision made by the second quarter of 2020.

But BOEM now says a final decision may not come until December
of this year.

“We have received updated information from the Department of
Interior that indicates the Final Environmental Impact Statement
for the Vineyard Wind I project will be published later than what
was previously anticipated,” Vineyard Wind CEO Lars Pedersen said
in a statement on Tuesday.

“While we need to analyze what a longer permitting timeline
will mean for beginning construction, commercial operation in 2022
is no longer expected,” Pedersen said.

State officials have hinted at BOEM’s new timeline in recent
weeks. “What we’ve heard is they’re giving themselves a
healthy time budget to make sure they can hit it. And if they can
do it faster, they will,” Kathleen Theoharides, Massachusetts’
secretary of energy and environmental affairs,
reportedly said
last week.

Vineyard has said that due to its permitting delays it will push
for an extension
of its qualification
for the investment tax credit, which will
be critical to the project’s underlying economics. The developer
may also take advantage of the additional time to switch to larger
wind turbine blades or reconfigure the project’s layout to better
accommodate fishing interests. MHI Vestas won the project’s
massive turbine order.

While Vineyard’s delay will mean further headaches for the
developer and its supply chain, simply having a firm deadline from
BOEM on the record brings a sense of certainty to the industry.

The update “provides important clarity,” said Laura Morton,
senior policy director for offshore at the American Wind Energy
Association.

“Moving forward, it’s critical [that BOEM] meet or
accelerate the announced schedule, expedite the review for other
offshore wind projects under development, and move forward with
auctions for new wind energy lease areas, which will create
thousands of new jobs and economic opportunities nationwide,”
Morton said in a statement.

Since its Massachusetts projects stalled, Vineyard scored
another big win, securing a deal in Connecticut for its
804-megawatt
Park City project
. As part of that deal, Vineyard will help to
transform Bridgeport into an industry hub for offshore wind.

Separately on Tuesday, the state of Connecticut announced a
final agreement with developer Ørsted and utility Eversource to
invest $157 million into New London’s State Pier through a
public-private partnership, setting the state up for a second
industry hub.

Source: FS – GreenTech Media
Vineyard Wind’s Timeline Slips as Trump Administration Further Delays Permits