Offshore Wind Work Group
Nantucket residents are encouraged to express their views directly to BOEM, Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, and Massachusetts Historical Commission, as well as to national and state environmental organizations that have so far declined to participate in environmental review to encourage them to reconsider their positions on offshore wind projects that pose adverse impacts to the environment and cultural heritage of local communities.
Map: MA Offshore Wind Project Areas
Clean energy goals and the preservation of Nantucket’s unique historic character are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, the historic preservation movement has been a leader in finding creative ways to address climate change and sea level rise. Communities like Nantucket with significant inventories of historic properties connected to historic ocean viewsheds have legal rights under the National Environmental Policy Act and National Historic Preservation Act that too often get overlooked. Under these federal statutes, and related state laws, federal agencies have a duty to assess adverse effects on historic and cultural resources and find ways through consultation to avoid, minimize, or mitigate harm. Adverse effects of offshore wind farms include, but are not limited to visual impacts, lighting impacts, and harm to local economies that depend on the preservation and protection of historic ocean landscapes.
Communities and offshore wind developers can and should forge long-term partnerships. Establishing trust, engaging in consultation, and developing creative solutions make it possible to achieve clean energy goals while ensuring that Nantucket has ways to offset the development’s harms to heritage tourism, property values, and historic context.
What We Do
Local governments and property owners have rights to be consulted on projects and policies that affect their interests, including impacts on their cultural and environmental resources. The Offshore Wind Work Group's mission is to represent the best interests of the island to wind developers seeking to build windfarms offshore Nantucket. Along with our legal counsel at Cultural Heritage Partners, PLLC, our work group meets and consults as needed to assist Town leadership to:
- Evaluate local environmental, economic, and/or visual impacts
- Determine appropriate project mitigation measures to offset perceived and assessed impacts, including through the Section 106 review process
- Negotiate for tangible community benefits, such as through a Community Benefit Agreement, offshore wind mitigation trust fund, or other economic development arrangements, as are standard in the offshore wind industry for impacted communities
- Mary Bergman, Nantucket Preservation Trust
- Shantaw Bloise, Department of Culture & Tourism Director
- Diane Coombs, Historic District Commission
- Matt Fee, Select Board
- Malcolm MacNab, Select Board
- Pete Kaiser, Fisheries Representative for the County Commission of Nantucket
- Andy Lowell, Shellfish Advisory Board
- Stephen Maury, Finance Committee
- Tom Montgomery, Nantucket Historical Commission
- Joe Plandowski, Nantucket Conservation Commission
- Joanna Roche, Maria Mitchell Association
- Maureen Phillips, Madaket Residents Association, at-large
- David Worth, at-large
- Lauren Sinatra, Energy Coordinator
- Holly Backus, Preservation Planner
- Will Cook, Cultural Heritage Partners
- Greg Werkheiser, Cultural Heritage Partners
Federal Regulatory Framework
In reviewing permit applications for offshore wind projects, the Bureau of Ocean Energy management (BOEM) is required under federal law to consider the impacts to resources in the Project Area. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is designed to ensure that the public and decision-makers are provided with the information they need to make a considered decision about the best path forward. The statute is also designed to ensure that the agency has carefully and fully contemplated the environmental effects of its proposed action, requiring federal agencies to take a “hard look” at the environmental consequences of a proposed action. In addition to considering impacts on the natural environment, NEPA requires federal agencies to consider impacts on historic and cultural resources.
Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) requires BOEM to address impacts to historic properties. As part of the federal government’s policy of protecting the nation’s historic heritage and sense of orientation as an American people, Section 106 requires federal agencies to consider the effects on historic properties of projects they carry out, assist, fund, permit, license, or approve throughout the country.
If a federal or federally-assisted project has the potential to affect historic properties listed or determined eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, a Section 106 review is required. During Section 106 review, once historic properties have been identified in coordination with the applicable State Historic Preservation Officer, the federal agency charged with permitting the proposed project must find ways to avoid, minimize, or mitigate adverse effects to those properties in consultation with parties who have a demonstrated interest in the undertaking. If a community like Nantucket has National Historic Landmarks—such as the Nantucket Historic District—that have a potential to experience adverse effects, Section 110(f) of the NHPA requires BOEM to use all possible planning to minimize harm, a heightened legal duty that BOEM often overlooks.
Federally Permitted Projects
As a result of the Town’s advocacy during BOEM’s environmental review process, Nantucket and Vineyard Wind entered into a Good Neighbor Agreement in August 2020, in which Vineyard Wind’s top executives committed to remove the first row of turbines, employ an Aircraft Lighting Detection System (ALDS) for the top of turbines to reduce nighttime lighting impacts, use a non-reflective paint color to minimize turbine visibility, and create a $16 million Nantucket Offshore Wind Community Fund, which will be administered by the Community Foundation for Nantucket. The Fund, which is based on tested European models, will support local initiatives to combat the effects of climate change, enhance coastal resiliency, and protect, restore, and preserve Nantucket’s cultural and historic resources. The first $4 million has already been received. As Vineyard Wind’s subsequent projects move forward, Vineyard Wind will provide additional funding to further support the Fund over the next 8-10 years, which will also accept contributions from other wind developers and philanthropists.
Construction on Vineyard Wind is underway. The project is expected to start delivering power in October 2023.
Cultural Heritage Partners continues to monitor for the Town several projects that will add to the cumulative impacts from offshore wind development on Nantucket, summaries of which are set forth below.
- Town of Nantucket Letter to BOEM - April 30, 2018
- Energy Coordinator Memo - February 13, 2019
- Town of Nantucket Letter to BOEM - February 22, 2019
- BOEM Finding of Adverse Effect for Vineyard Wind Project - April 10, 2019
- Town Counsel Letter to BOEM - April 19, 2019
- Town of Nantucket Letter to Dept. of Environmental Protection - April 25, 2019
- Vineyard Wind Response Letter to Town of Nantucket - May 3, 2019
- Revised Finding of Adverse Effect - June 20, 2019
- Town of Nantucket Comments on BOEM Finding of Adverse Effect for Vineyard Wind Offshore Energy Project - July 20, 2019
- Town Letter to DOER re- MA Offshore Wind Solicitations - September 4, 2019
- Letter to the Secretary of the Interior Re: Vineyard Wind Offshore Energy Project within Lease Area OCS-A 0501 - November 22, 2019 (PDF)
- Vineyard Wind And Nantucket Announce Community Partnership Vineyard Wind and Nantucket Announce Community Partnership - September 8, 2020
Projects Under Active Permitting Review
SouthCoast Wind (formerly Mayflower Wind)
SouthCoast Wind is a joint venture wind farm between Shell Renewables and Ocean Winds developing 23 miles south of Nantucket. There will be up to 147 turbines standing up to 1,066 feet tall, with red flashing aviation lights on top and lower platform lights at the base for maritime navigation.
On February 8, 2023, SouthCoast Wind visited Nantucket to discuss the project and presented to the Select Board.
Photosimulations of the project are available to view at the Town Administration Office; 16 Broad Street (Town Building; 1st Floor); Energy Office; 2 Fairgrounds Road (PLUS Department), The Town is currently planning another visit from the company and will circulate details once they are available.
On April 18, 2023, the Town submitted comments to BOEM on the draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). We will continue to monitor any permitting to ensure avoidance, minimization, and mitigation of adverse effects.
SouthCoast Wind, like many other projects, is attempting to renegotiate their Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with state utilities. In June, they announced they canceled contracts in Massachusetts and intend to rebid under a new request for proposals that allows “an alternative indexed pricing proposal to account for inflation and other macroeconomic trends.” We continue to monitor the situation.
- 9/27/23: SouthCoast Wind Project Section 106 Consultation Schedule Update
- Town of Nantucket Comments on SouthCoast DEIS - April 18, 2023 (PDF)
- Town of Nantucket Comments to US Army Corps of Engineers on SouthCoast DEIS - April 4, 2023 (PDF)
- MA SHPO Letter on SouthCoast Wind - April 18, 2023 (PDF)
- Visualizations of the project seen from key observation points (KOPs) on Nantucket (PDF)
- Town's Scoping Comments Re: Mayflower Wind NOI to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement -December 1, 2021 (PDF)
- Section 106 Consultation Schedule Milestones and Approximate Dates Under BOEM’s NEPA Substitution Process (PDF)
- Mayflower Wind COP: Appendix S - Analysis of Visual Effects to Historic Properties (PDF)
- Mayflower Wind COP; Appendix T - Visual Impact Assessment (PDF)
- Town Attorney Letter to Mayflower Wind - August 2, 2022 (PDF)
Section 106 Consultation Meetings
Empty headingJuly 7, 2022
- March 16, 2023
DEIS Public Meetings
BOEM held three public meetings on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The recordings can be found below:
Beacon Wind, LLC is developing Lease Area OCS-A 0520, located offshore approximately 20 miles southwest Nantucket, Massachusetts. The Lease Area is anticipated to be developed in two phases. Together, Beacon Wind 1 and Beacon Wind 2 would consist of up to 155 wind turbine generators (WTGs) that are 1,083 feet tall at the top blade tip. The projects would produce 1,230 megawatts of wind energy.
BOEM approved the Site Assessment Plan for Beacon Wind on September 24, 2021. On June 5, 2023, Beacon Wind submitted a Construction and Operations Plan (COP) which the Town has commented on. We will continue to monitor the environmental permitting process once BOEM initiates review.
Virtual public meetings:
- Beacon Wind NOI EIS Public Scoping Meeting Recording – July 13, 2023
- Beacon Wind NOI EIS Public Scoping Meeting Recording – July 26, 2023
Revolution Wind 1
The Revolution Wind Farm is a joint venture by Ørsted and Eversource located 34 miles off the coast of Nantucket. Although Nantucket consulting parties participated in the S.106 process, BOEM ultimately concluded through the revised Finding of Effect that “BOEM’s planning and action will avoid adverse effect” on Nantucket’s historic properties.
The project will produce 704MW of electricity (powering 250,000 homes), 304MW for Connecticut and 400MW for Rhode Island. It will consist of 65 turbines reaching a maximum height of 873 feet. The project is expected to be operational by 2025.
On August 22, 2023, BOEM issued its Record of Decision on Revolution Wind, concluding the National Environmental Protection Act review. BOEM’s final Construction and Operations Plan (COP) decision is scheduled for fall 2023. Revolution Wind is the second project off the coast of Massachusetts to clear this hurdle, following the approval of South Fork Wind in 2021.
Revolution Wind 2 (formerly Bay State Wind)
Revolution Wind 2 (formerly Bay State Wind) is a joint venture between Orsted and Eversource, 25 miles off the coast of Massachusetts, and 14 miles from Martha’s Vineyard. The development will have up to 110 wind turbines. No COP has been filed at this time, and so it is unclear how far off Nantucket the development will be, or how tall the turbines may be. We will be monitoring the permitting of this project and will update with any information we receive.
New England Wind (formerly Vineyard Wind South)
The New England Wind project will be constructed in a lease area formerly known as Vineyard Wind South, which is located southwest of Vineyard Wind 1. New England Wind will be constructed in two phases. Phase 1, called Park City Wind, will be an 804-megawatt (MW) project and, if constructed, would be immediately southwest of Vineyard Wind 1. Phase 2, called Commonwealth Wind, will deliver 1,200 to 1,500 MWs of power and occupy the remainder of what is now known as the Southern Lease Area behind Vineyard Wind 1.
A phased development Construction and Operations Plan (COP) was submitted to BOEM on July 2, 2020, proposing the construction and installation, operations and maintenance, and conceptual decommissioning of the following offshore wind energy facilities:
- Up to 130 wind turbine positions
- 2 to 5 offshore substations
- Inter-array cables
- Up to 3 onshore substations
- Up to 5 transmission cables.
DEIS Public Meetings
BOEM held three public meetings on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). The recordings can be found below:
Vineyard Wind – Liberty Wind
Liberty Wind Offshore Project is a 1,300MW offshore wind power project. It is planned in the Atlantic Ocean 28.25 miles offshore Nantucket and is considered a New York project. The project is currently in an “announced stage.” In other words, no permitting application is currently pending. The project is expected to produce power beginning in 2027.
Liberty Wind is being developed by Vineyard Wind. The project is co-owned by Avangrid Renewables and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners KS, with their respective ownership stake of 50% each. The project is expected to supply enough clean energy to power 700,000 households. As with other Vineyard Wind projects, the Town supports its development and will continue to monitor its progress during federal and state permitting reviews.
- Biden-Harris Administration Approves Fourth Major Offshore Wind Project here.
- SouthCoast Wind Appeal Highlights Project’s Risk here.
- Vineyard Wind Begins Turbine Foundation Installation here.
- Interior Department Announces Start of Turbine Construction for Commercial-Scale, Offshore Wind Energy Project in Federal Waters here.
- Elizabeth Klein Named Director of Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, available here
- BOEM Announces Proposed Rule to Increase Protection of Marine Archaeological Resources, available here
- BOEM Standardizes Process for Environmental Reviews of Offshore Wind Construction and Operations Plans, available here.
- Vineyard Wind and Nantucket Announce Community Partnership, available here.
- Biden Administration Launches New Federal-State Offshore Wind Partnership to Grow American-Made Clean Energy, available here.
- President Biden Takes Bold Executive Action to Spur Domestic Clean Energy Manufacturing, available here.
- Biden Administration Jumpstarts Offshore Wind Energy Projects to Create Jobs, available here.
- Biden-Harris Administration Advances Offshore Wind Energy Leasing on Atlantic and Pacific Coasts, available here.
- Interior Department Approves Second Major Offshore Wind Project in U.S. Federal Waters here.
- Broekel, T., & Alfken, C. 2015. Gone with the Wind? The Impact of Wind Turbines on Tourism Demand. Energy Policy, 86, 506–519, available here.
- Parsons, G. Firestone, J. 2018. Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy Development: Values and Implications for Recreation and Tourism. Sterling (VA): US Department of the Interior, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. OCS Study BOEM 2018-013. 52 p, available here.
- Sullivan, R. G., Kirchler, L. B., Cothren, J., & Winters, S. L. 2013. Research articles:
Offshore wind turbine visibility and visual impact threshold distances. Environmental Practice, 15(1), 33–49, available here.
- Vissering, J., 2011. A Visual Impact Assessment Process for Wind Energy Projects, available here.
- Warner, R., 2018. Cultural Resources Specialist, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Office of Renewable Energy (Atlantic), An Overview of Visual Impact Analysis for Offshore Wind Energy, available here.