BOSTON — The pipeline of offshore wind projects is coming into clearer view with federal officials this week planning to start their official review of a development that could offer as much as 2.3 gigawatts of power to northeastern states.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management plans on Wednesday to publish a notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement for Vineyard Wind South, a project of up to 130 turbines that the company, which is separately developing a project solely for Massachusetts utilities, plans to build out in phases. The first phase, 804 MW of power, is earmarked as Park City Wind and is under contract with Connecticut.
The notice of intent will kick off a 30-day public comment period during which BOEM will hold three virtual meetings to identify issues it should consider as it prepares a draft environmental impact statement which will then be subject to further review and its own approval. Earlier this month, BOEM began a similar process for Equinor's 816-megawatt Empire Wind project that's expected to deliver power to New York.
The Vineyard Wind South project is planned for the remaining southwestern portion of the 260 square mile lease area that will host the Massachusetts-contracted Vineyard Wind I project at the northeastern end. If the Vineyard Wind South project is fully developed, BOEM said it could include "up to 130 wind turbine generators, two to five offshore substations, inter-array cables, and up to five export cables connecting to the onshore electric grid in Barnstable County, Massachusetts, at up to three onshore substations."
In Massachusetts, Vineyard Wind is working towards the financial close of its Vineyard Wind I project that is expected to bring about 800 MW of power online for Massachusetts by the end of 2023. The Biden administration kicked off its flurry of offshore wind actions this spring by approving that project, which is in line to be the nation's first utility-scale offshore wind farm.
Mayflower Wind, the second project chosen by Massachusetts utilities to deliver about 800 MW of power, is planning to begin its own federal permitting process next year with an expected operational date in late 2025. Massachusetts utilities and the Baker administration are in the process of soliciting and selecting a third offshore wind development, one that could generate as much as 1,600 MW of power.
Bids are due in September and the group of utility executives and state officials evaluating submissions is expected to select a project by December.