Deepwater Wind - Block Island wind turbines / Associated Press

Massachusetts: Select Board discusses Vineyard Wind options

The Nantucket Select Board tonight held a public hearing to discuss possible financial compensation the town could receive from Vineyard Wind’s proposed offshore wind-energy project. That project would add 84 turbines 14 miles southwest of Madaket, and would run a cable, partly through town waters, from the project site to Covell’s Beach in Barnstable.

The project site is one of seven the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) leased to several energy companies, including Bay State Wind, Equinor, Mayflower Wind and Deepwater Wind. BOEM last week, determined that the Vineyard Wind project could have an adverse visual effect on the island’s status as a National Historic Landmark.

Town energy coordinator Lauren Sinatra said the town supports offshore wind power, but still has several concerns about the project. They include the visual impact the turbines would have, and the implications it could have on tourism, as well as the town’s designation as a national historic landmark. She was worried that the project could have a negative ecological effect on the waters south of the island, which could hurt fishermen who fish in the area.

Several town projects could be funded by Vineyard Wind in return for those impacts, she said. They include a sediment transportation study, beach nourishment and dune restoration on the entire south shore of the island, a catalog of downtown sidewalks, the creation of an artificial reef, support for the town’s coastal resiliency plan, and repairs to Millie’s Bridge in Madaket, the former Tom Nevers Navy Base and the JFK bunker on the property.

The deadline to submit mitigation proposals to BOEM is Friday, April 19, she added.

Select Board member Matt Fee asked how the town determines what the adverse effects are, and if asked if town counsel, which is drafting the proposals, has the expertise to know the full range of proposals that could be asked for. Sinatra said the effects are currently being determined.

Capital Program Committee chairman Stephen Welch said that an expert in the field is needed. The Historic District Commission asked town counsel seek extra advice, he said.

Pete Kaizer, a charter-boat captain for Althea K Sport Fishing, asked if the town would have to take the same steps with the other wind-power companies with leases on offshore properties, as their projects come to fruition. Sinatra said they would.

The board voted 4-0 to support town counsel’s letter to BOEM, provided they seek out extra expertise in drafting it. Board chairwoman Dawn Holdgate was absent.

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