In a significant development that sees a reversal of U.S. energy policy, the Biden Administration stated it would restart permitting for the first major U.S. offshore wind farm. The development reverses a Trump administration decision that canceled the process in late 2020.
In a statement the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) said, it would resume an environmental review of the Vineyard Wind project as part of the administration’s broad plan to speed renewable energy development on federal lands and waters.
“BOEM is committed to conducting a robust and timely review of the proposed project,” said Director Amanda Lefton in the statement.
In December 2020, Vineyard Wind had requested a pause in the federal permitting process while it determined whether changes to its design were necessary because of a switch in turbine manufacturers, prompting BOEM to terminate its entire review.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump had promised to support the nascent U.S. industry as part of his energy dominance agenda; permission to Vineyard Wind was repeatedly delayed in part because of concerns that its turbines would interfere with commercial fishing.
Vineyard Wind is a joint venture between Avangrid Inc, a unit of Spain’s Iberdrola, and Denmark’s Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners. The project is 15 miles (24 km) off the coast of Massachusetts. Once constructed, it is expected to provide power to more than 400,000 Massachusetts homes.
“We’re very pleased,” said Vineyard Wind in a statement. “We look forward to working with the agency as we launch an industry that will create thousands of good paying jobs while also taking meaningful steps to reduce the impact of climate change.”
The Responsible Offshore Development Alliance, a fishing industry group, said it hoped the resumption of the permitting process would provide new opportunities for the public to weigh in on the project.