It will be a while before the U.S. is entirely powered by renewable energy — even though we so desperately need it to be — but a new project is helping bring the nation a bit closer to that goal. President Joe Biden just approved an offshore wind project called Vineyard Wind, located in Massachusetts.
The project has been in the works for years, and environmentalists are applauding the move, which brings Vineyard Wind one step closer to becoming a reality.
Biden just approved an offshore wind farm in Massachusetts.
On Monday, March 8, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), which is an agency under President Biden, completed its environmental reviews of the Vineyard Wind project, as reported by EcoWatch. This does not mean the project is ready to start construction, however — the project still needs the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to give their approval, according to E&E News.
Assuming those last two agencies do sign off, Vineyard Wind is expected to start providing electricity to Massachusetts homes in 2023, according to Vineyard Wind.
What is the Vineyard Wind project?
Responsibly developed #OffshoreWind is critical to mitigating #ClimateChange, growing the economy, creating jobs & driving equitable economic benefits. The @VineyardWindUS Final Environmental Impact Statement is a step toward a clean energy future. https://t.co/b8tEDezbaI #NE4OSW pic.twitter.com/n3riEua0sj— Environmental League of Massachusetts (@EnviroLeagueMA) March 8, 2021
Vineyard Wind is an offshore wind project, being managed by Avangrid Renewables and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP). The project was first proposed in 2009, and it has been subjected to more than three years of governmental review.
The $2 billion project has already leased a 160,000-acre area of water, located about 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard’s shore, near Cape Cod. If completed, Vineyard Wind claims the project will produce affordable renewable energy for more than 400,000 homes and businesses in Massachusetts, which would help reduce carbon emissions by more than 1.6 million tons every year.
Vineyard Wind also claims that the project will be the first utility-scale offshore wind energy project in the U.S., marking an exciting milestone in the country’s journey toward a renewable energy economy.
According to Vineyard Wind, Massachusetts has a goal of generating 3,200 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035 — that would represent about 20 percent of the state’s entire electricity consumption.
The offshore Vineyard Wind project could create jobs in Massachusetts.
"This is the day the U.S. offshore wind industry has been anxiously awaiting for years. Today's announcement provides the regulatory greenlight the industry needs to attract investments and move projects forward," said Liz Burdock, head of the nonprofit Business Network for Offshore Wind, as per Politico.
"This is truly a significant step forward in the process for moving towards more offshore wind development in the United States," Amanda Lefton, director of BOEM, told reporters on a call today, according to E&E News.
Lefton and Vineyard Wind CEO Lars T. Pedersen both drew attention to jobs this project will create across Massachusetts. "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,” Pedersen said in a statement on Vineyard Wind’s website.
Many experts have noted the importance of a green recovery plan from the coronavirus pandemic — that’s one that would prioritize repairing the economy, creating jobs, fighting emissions, and improving public health. Building new renewable energy projects like Vineyard Wind and transitioning away from fossil fuels is an important step in achieving all that.