Offshore Wind Work Group

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Map: MA Offshore Wind Project Areas

Background

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 will 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

Members

  • Denice Kronau, Finance Committee
  • Matt Fee, Select Board
  • Melissa Murphy, Select Board 
  • Diane Coombs, Historic District Commission
  • Tom Montgomery, Nantucket Historical Commission
  • Mary Bergman, Nantucket Preservation Trust
  • Joanna Roche, Maria Mitchell Association
  • Shantaw Bloise, Department of Culture & Tourism Director
  • Maureen Phillips, (Madaket Residents Association), at-large
  • David Worth, at-large

Consulting Members

  • Pete Kaiser, Fisheries Representative for the County Commission of Nantucket

Staff Liaisons

  • Lauren Sinatra, Energy Coordinator

  • Holly Backus, Preservation Planner

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. 

To learn more about NEPA and the NHPA, additional information is available here and here. 

Vineyard Wind Information

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.

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.

Mayflower Wind Information

Mayflower 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. Permitting has only just begun for Mayflower Wind, with a draft EIS not expected until January 2023. Because it is 20 miles off the coast of Nantucket, visual impacts are possible, and we will continue to monitor any permitting to ensure avoidance, minimization, and mitigation of adverse effects. 

Section 106 Consultation Meeting #1: July 7, 2022

Bay State Wind

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 of 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. 

Consistent with its Good Neighbor Agreement, the Town supports the development of New England Wind and will continue to monitor its progress during federal and state permit reviews. 

Vineyard Wind – Liberty Wind

Liberty Wind Offshore Project is a 1,300MW offshore wind power project. It is planned in in the Atlantic Ocean 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. It will be developed in single phase. Post completion of the construction, the project is expected to get commissioned 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.

Beacon Wind

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, BW 1 and BW 2 would produce over 2,000 megawatts of wind energy. 

On September 24, 2021, BOEM approved the Site Assessment Plan for Beacon Wind. Beacon Wind has not yet submitted a Construction and Operations Plan (COP). We will continue to monitor the environmental permitting process once BOEM initiates review. 

News Alerts

  • 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 Manufacturingavailable 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.

Studies

  • 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.
  1. Lauren Sinatra

    Energy Coordinator
    Phone: 508-325-5379

  2. Holly Backus

    Preservation Planner
    Phone: 508-325-7587 ext. 7026