BOEM Completes Review for First Offshore Wind Farm in Federal Waters

vineyard wind
The Vineyard Wind development area (shaded blue) off Massachusetts (BOEM)

Published Mar 8, 2021 3:25 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has issued its long-awaited final environmental impact study (FEIS) for the Vineyard Wind project off Massachusetts, which will be the first commercial-scale offshore wind farm in federal waters. 

BOEM is leaning towards a preferred alternative that would combine several of the development options examined in the draft EIS. The preferred option would allow Vineyard Wind to build the desired 800 MW wind farm, but with 84 larger GE Haliade-X turbines instead of 100 smaller MHI Vestas turbines; no turbines in the northernmost portion of the lease site; and north-south / east-west row alignment with one nautical mile spacing between foundations. These terms broadly align with the parameters submitted by Vineyard Wind itself in its construction and operations plan (COP). 

The study paves the way for a formal record of decision on Vineyard Wind's EIS review, and it will almost certainly result in a permit approval matching BOEM's preferred alternative option. As such, it represents a landmark victory for the developer and for the U.S. offshore wind industry, which has been closely watching the permitting process for this pace-setting development. 

"By any measure, this is a breakthrough for offshore wind energy in the United States. Not even two months into a new administration, years of delay have finally culminated in a thorough analysis that should soon put this infrastructure investment on its way," said Heather Zichal, CEO of the American Clean Power Association (ACP). "We enthusiastically applaud the Biden Administration for completing a thorough analysis and moving ahead rapidly with the final steps to approve the Vineyard Wind project."

“We want to thank BOEM for all of the work they’ve done since we submitted the permit application in December of 2017 on this first-in-the-nation project,” said Vineyard Wind CEO Lars T. Pedersen in a statement. “More than three years of federal review and public comment is nearing its conclusion and 2021 is poised to be a momentous year for our project and the broader offshore wind industry. Offshore wind is a historic opportunity to build a new industry that will lead to the creation of thousands of jobs, reduce electricity rates for consumers and contribute significantly to limiting the impacts of climate change."