The Massachusetts Legislature has enacted bi-partisan legislation co-sponsored by Sen. Julian Cyr (D-Truro) and Rep. William L. Crocker (R-Barnstable) authorizing the Barnstable Town Council to grant an easement for a portion of Covell’s Beach that will allow for construction of the interconnection between Vineyard Wind.
The legislative vote follows a Host Community Agreement (HCA) between the town and Vineyard Wind, which was unanimously supported by the Barnstable Town Council in October 2018. The HCA includes annual payments to the town of at least $1.534 million each year in combined property taxes and host community payments, totaling a guaranteed $16 million in Host Community Payments. The council, in turn, has dedicated those resources to municipal water protection efforts.
The HCA also includes $80,000 for reconstruction of a bathhouse at Covell’s Beach; repaving of an aged parking lot at the beach, barring construction between Memorial Day and Labor Day; and collaboration on design features. The company and the town are working in close collaboration to aid the town’s sewer needs by co-locating sewer infrastructure in conjunction with Vineyard Wind construction, which will save costs to the town and reduce the need for future road openings.
“The landing of the Vineyard Wind underwater transmission cable in Centerville will bring clean renewable electricity for thousands of local homes and businesses, and further establish our region on the leading edge of a clean energy future,” Cyr said. “Swift action on this legislation has been a priority for the entire Cape and Islands legislative delegation. With our vote, the Town of Barnstable will receive significant financial benefits and electric infrastructure improvements as a result of the project’s landing site.”
“I am very pleased the House has unanimously approved the Vineyard Wind easement for the Town of Barnstable,” said Crocker. “This is another step in the legislative process that will eventually allow for the production of clean and renewable energy off Martha’s Vineyard. This legislation will allow for the creation of 3,600 new jobs for the Commonwealth and will annually reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1.68 million metric tons; this is a win-win for all of Massachusetts.”
Vineyard Wind relayed appreciation for the efforts of all Cape Cod officials, including the bi-partisan coalition of legislators who co-sponsored the effort.
“Following more than a year of close collaboration between Barnstable and Vineyard Wind, we’re grateful for the efforts of Cape Cod lawmakers to enact bi-partisan legislation that allows for construction of America’s first large-scale offshore wind farm,” said Erich Stephens, chief development officer for Vineyard Wind. “With the easement, Vineyard Wind can move forward with a program that features minimally invasive burial techniques 30 feet below the tideline with no disruption to the shoreline.”
Vineyard Wind continues to undergo an extensive and comprehensive public and regulatory review process that involves evaluation by more than 25 federal, state, and local regulatory bodies, including the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the Army Corps of Engineers, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, the Cape Cod Commission, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, and local conservation commissions. To date, Vineyard Wind has received permits or approvals from the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB), an independent state board responsible for review of proposed large energy facilities, the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act office, the Cape Cod Commission, the Barnstable Conservation Commission, the Martha’s Vineyard Conservation Commission, and the Nantucket Conservation Commission.
In April, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities approved long-term power purchase contracts between Vineyard Wind and Massachusetts’ electric distribution companies for the delivery of clean offshore wind energy. Along with the Barnstable HCA, the company also has entered into a Community Benefits Agreement with the nonprofit energy cooperative Vineyard Power, which serves Martha’s Vineyard. Fishing representatives for the project include the New Bedford Port Authority, the Massachusetts Lobsterman’s Association, and the Martha’s Vineyard Fishermen’s Preservation Trust.
With construction scheduled to begin at Covell’s Beach parking lot this fall, representatives of Vineyard Wind are scheduled to hold office hours in Barnstable to speak directly with residents on Friday at Covell’s Beach, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., and on the following days in August: Thursday, Aug. 1 at Centerville Public Library, 4-6 p.m.; Saturday, Aug. 10 at Covell’s Beach, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and Thursday, Aug. 29 at Centerville Library, 4 to 6 p.m.
While parking at Covell’s beach requires a Barnstable-resident parking permit, Vineyard Wind received permission from the town to hold these special “office hours” at the beach. Vineyard Wind staff will have a canopy tent and sign located near the Covell’s Beach bath house. In the event of inclement weather, beach hours will be rescheduled.
In addition, the company will hold a public forum with a Q&A session at Centerville Library on Thursday, Aug. 15, 4-6 p.m. The session is not sponsored or endorsed by the library.