The largest environmental advocacy group on Cape Cod has endorsed Vineyard Wind's proposed 800-megawatt offshore wind farm.
Announced Wednesday, the support from the Association to Preserve Cape Cod [APCC] comes as New Bedford-based Vineyard Wind enters a period of potentially contentious public hearings on its recently-submitted environmental impact statement.
"With the recent news reports about the acceleration and increased severity of climate change, it's really necessary to begin to take meaningful steps to change our fuel mix to a low-carbon mix that contains a significant amount of renewable energy," Andrew Gottlieb, the group's executive director, said in a phone interview. "We feel that the siting and design of the Vineyard Wind project has minimized the impacts of the project to migratory birds, to marine mammals and to fishermen."
The proposed wind farm, which aims to be the first offshore wind farm off the coast of Massachusetts, will be located in federal waters 15 miles south of Martha's Vineyard. It will connect to the electric grid in Barnstable.
The environmental impact statement prepared by the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management described possible impacts to marine mammals, migrating birds, coastal habitats, groundwater near the Barnstable transformer station and fisheries.
Fishing industry representatives also have raised concerns about the project. Gottlieb told reporters in a joint press conference with APCC Wednesday that he expects fishing industry advocates to continue to "pursue their interests." But, he added, fisheries are under threat from climate change, and if people don't turn to renewable energy, “species are going to leave these waters or go extinct."
Vineyard Wind, jointly owned by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Avangrid Renewables, was one of three bidders to secure new offshore wind tracts auctioned off last week by the federal government.
With additional reporting from State House News Service
Correction: An earlier version of this story misattributed a quote by Gottlieb. The post has been updated. We regret the error.