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First commercial scale U.S. offshore wind farm project clears key hurdle

·2 min read

WASHINGTON, March 8 (Reuters) - The Interior Department completed its final environmental review of what would the first commercial scale U.S. offshore wind farm, it announced on Monday, clearing a key hurdle needed to permit the project off Massachusetts.

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)'s final environmental impact statement for the Vineyard Wind project, an 800-megawatt wind energy project will be published in the federal register by Friday, kicking off a final 30-day comment period before it issues its record of decision of whether it will approve the project.

The project is a key step for the Biden-Harris administration, which has set a goal to double offshore wind capacity by 2030 and decarbonize the power sector by 2035.

"The United States is poised to become a global clean energy leader,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary - Land and Minerals Management Laura Daniel Davis.

Last month, the Biden administration reversed a Trump administration decision that canceled the permitting process for Vineyard Wind late last year and restarted the environmental review.

Vineyard Wind is a joint venture between Avangrid Inc , a unit of Spain’s Iberdrola, and Denmark’s Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners. The project is 15 miles (24 km) off the coast of Massachusetts. Once constructed, it is expected to provide power to more than 400,000 Massachusetts homes.

The proposed project would be located approximately 12 nautical miles offshore Martha's Vineyard and 12 nautical miles offshore Nantucket in the northern portion of Vineyard Wind’s lease area.

The offshore wind industry had complained about the slow pace of permitting for offshore projects and welcomed Monday's announcement. "A timely and effective permitting regime is a necessity in developing the generational energy and economic opportunity of offshore wind. With Interior's announcement, we are closer to that reality," said National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) President Erik Milito. (Reporting by Valerie Volcovici Editing by Marguerita Choy)