Biden Finally Pushes Vineyard Wind Project Forward After Years of Delays

Block Island wind project off the coast of Rhode Island. Image: Wikimedia Commons

by Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer

In 2018, Vineyard Wind planned to build the first utility-scale offshore wind project near Martha’s Vineyard — a project that could create thousands of jobs and generated enough energy to serve 400,000 households and businesses. However, this project has been riddled with delays, as the project met regulatory hurdles at the hand of the Trump administration

But now, with a new administration, it looks as if the project is finally getting back on track: a press release from Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey announced that the Department of Interior intends to review Vineyard Wind’s proposed offshore wind project, a huge step forward for sustainable energy in the United States.

Why This Matters:
This decision hopefully signals a turning point and is just the beginning of the greenlighting of offshore wind projects. According to statistics from the American Wind Energy Associationif the 15 wind farms with active commercial leases were constructed, they could generate 30 gigawatts of electricity, create 83,000 jobs, and bring in 25 billion dollars in annual economic output over the next ten years.

As Senator Markey explained in his press release: “The Biden administration is getting us back on track, providing business certainty to offshore wind projects that will power our economy by creating jobs and producing clean, affordable energy. This is a far cry from the Trump-era delays and denials that put ideology over the interests of the American people. We look forward to continuing to work with the Administration and with Massachusetts stakeholders on how to swiftly and responsibly develop this next-generation industry that will play a key role in combatting the climate crisis.”

Additionally, this particular project will be a boost to Massachusetts’ economy. The project will create opportunities for over 2,120 workers, while also employing around 500 workers in indirect supply-chain jobs and creating 30 new jobs annually through its 25-year life-cycle. 

Getting Back on Track: As Senator Markey has been helping usher along the permit process for Vineyard Wind, he has also been working with other senators to bring forth legislation that will make developing other offshore wind facilities less burdensome. 

In June 2019, Senators Markey, Tom Carper (D-DE), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) proposed legislation that would expand career training for offshore wind projects. Markey and Whitehouse also worked with Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) to reintroduce legislation that would extend tax credits to the renewable energy industry and further encourage its development. 

Moreover, Markey sent letters to offshore wind companies Vineyard Wind, Ørsted, Mayflower Wind, and Equinor to encourage them to enter into Project Labor Agreements for all projects off the coast of Massachusetts. These Project Labor Agreements would allow these companies to work with local unions to find highly skilled laborers, a strategy that Ørsted has recently undertaken.

The CEO of Vineyard Wind, Lars Pedersen, suggested that the company is prepared to begin construction as soon as the government approves the project, and hopefully, this offshore wind facility will be approved soon.

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