Vineyard Wind and the Edgartown Conservation Commission have reached a settlement that's critical to the offshore wind project's ability to connect its 800 megawatt development area to the mainland electricity grid.
The commission this summer denied the project's plans to bury two transmission cables in Nantucket Sound and Muskeget Channel areas within Edgartown, and the project appealed to the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). After the department issued an order of conditions favoring the project, the commission appealed and the settlement was reached before that appeal was fully heard by another wing of the DEP.
According to the settlement signed by officials representing the commission, the state agency and Vineyard Wind, the commission will have a "continued role and oversight" of the project, with project officials required to submit certain information to the commission. Other conditions apply to the project's choice of cable protection, boulder relocation techniques, post-construction eelgrass surveys, decommissioning plans and emergency cable repairs.
The settlement agreement was signed Sept. 18 by all three parties.
DEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg on Tuesday issued the agency's final order of conditions, and the agency affirmed in related documents that the project has impacts on land containing shellfish, wildlife habitat, fisheries, storm damage prevention and flood control.
The federal government, faced with an array of offshore wind project on the eastern seaboard, slammed the brakes on the industry in August, holding up the Vineyard Wind project in particular as officials take a broader look at offshore wind's expected impacts. Since then, President Donald Trump's criticism of wind energy and his vocal support for the natural gas and coal industries have added to the uncertainty facing wind energy supporters.