Yesterday, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced the availability of its draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed New England Wind energy project offshore Massachusetts. If approved, this proposed 2.6-GW project could provide power for more than 900,000 homes, BOEM said.
BOEM has initiated the environmental review of 10 projects, with more to come. Of these, New England Wind represents the sixth project to reach the DEIS stage of review by BOEM.
New England Wind joins five other offshore wind projects – Ocean Wind, Empire Wind, Revolution Wind, Sunrise Wind, and Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind – Commercial – awaiting their final environmental impact reviews. This group represents up to 11 GW of offshore wind power generation, and their anticipated approval in 2023 would create a substantial pipeline of projects entering into manufacturing and construction phases.
“For two years, the Biden-Harris administration has worked diligently to advance the U.S. offshore wind industry through executive action and meticulous permitting review, and that hard work is set to pay off in the next year," Liz Burdock, founder and CEO of the Business Network for Offshore Wind, said in a statement. "U.S. offshore wind was already primed for an historic year in 2023 with two commercial projects expected to continue construction – now, including New England Wind, BOEM could approve six more projects for construction, representing up to 11 GW in offshore wind capacity and enough to power nearly four million homes. An approved project pipeline of this size instantly makes the U.S. a top global market and will go a long way to supporting existing and driving new supply chain investments domestically."
The New England Wind draft EIS can be found on BOEM’s website, and the notice of availability will be published in the Federal Register on Dec. 23, 2022, which will open a 60-day public comment period that ends at 11:59 p.m. ET on Feb. 21, 2023. The input received via this process will inform preparation of the final EIS.
Park City LLC submitted a construction and operation plan (COP) for its proposal to develop a wind energy facility and its associated export cables on the outer continental shelf (OCS) offshore Massachusetts. Park City proposes to develop the lease area in two phases, known as Park City Wind (Phase 1) and Commonwealth Wind (Phase 2), collectively referred to as New England Wind.
The proposal includes up to 129 wind turbines and up to five offshore electrical service platforms with a total of five offshore export cables. The project will be located about 20 nautical miles (nm) south of Martha’s Vineyard and about 24 nm southwest of Nantucket. The onshore components of the project will include up to three export cable landfalls in Massachusetts (one for Phase 1 and up to two for Phase 2) and up to three onshore substations: one in Barnstable, Mass., for Phase 1 and up to two in Barnstable or Bristol County, Mass., for Phase 2.
BOEM will use the findings of the EIS to inform its decision on whether to approve the New England Wind COP, and if so, which mitigation measures to require.
Public Meetings and Comments
During the comment period, BOEM will hold three virtual public meetings where the public can learn more about the review process, the EIS schedule, potential impacts from the proposed project, and proposals to reduce potential impacts. Participants also will have the opportunity to provide comments on the draft EIS. The public meetings will be held on the following dates and times. All times are Eastern:
- Fri., Jan. 27, 2023 - 1:00 pm
- Wed., Feb. 1, 2023 - 5:00 pm
- Mon., Feb. 6, 2023 - 5:00 pm
A virtual meeting room will be on BOEM’s website starting on Dec. 23, 2022. It will be available throughout the 60-day comment period and will include information about the draft EIS, as well as how to register for the virtual public meetings and provide comments.