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Federal Government Approves Vineyard Wind

The wind farm off Block Island, R.I., is the only one currently operating on the East Coast. AP photo

The wind farm off Block Island, R.I., is the only one currently operating on the East Coast. AP photo

The federal government this week announced the approval of the Vineyard Wind project — the first large-scale, offshore wind farm in the United States.

The turbines will be erected in federal waters in the Atlantic, 12 nautical miles off Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, Mass.

The announcement was made by Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, joined by labor leaders who have been working to ensure that the project is built and maintained by union workers.

“The approval of this project is an important step toward advancing the [Biden-Harris] administration's goals to create good-paying union jobs while combatting climate change and powering our nation,” said Haaland.

AP PHOTO

AP PHOTO

According to the announcement, the 800-megawatt Vineyard Wind project will contribute to the administration’s goal of generating 30 gigawatts of energy from offshore wind by 2030 and will create 3,600 jobs and provide enough power for 400,000 New England homes and businesses.

The government’s Record of Decision grants Vineyard Wind federal approval to install up to 84 turbines in an east-west orientation. The turbines will be a minimum of 1 nautical mile apart in the north-south and east-west directions, consistent with Coast Guard recommendations in the Final Massachusetts and Rhode Island Port Access Route Study.

Fishing interests oppose the wind turbines, which are to be built on traditional grounds for scallops, squid, sea bass and other fish, according to published reports. Fishermen say the wind farm will be dangerous to navigate, particularly in poor weather and because of interference with radar.

Vineyard Wind developers agreed to pay $37.7 million to commercial fishermen in Massachusetts and Rhode Island as compensation for future losses, according to the report.

Vineyard Wind is required to submit a facility design report and a fabrication and installation report prior to construction. A dozen other offshore wind projects along the East Coast are said to be under federal review.

"This approval shows Massachusetts developed a successful model for promoting offshore wind energy," Gov. Charlie Baker wrote on Twitter following Tuesday's announcement, the Cape Cod Times reported. "We appreciate the federal government's partnership and look forward to working with Vineyard Wind to create thousands of jobs and set MA on a path to achieve Net Zero emissions."

Click here for more about offshore wind energy.

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