By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff
A decision on the Vineyard Wind offshore energy project by Rhode Island regulators has been delayed again.
The project slated for 92 square miles of ocean south of Martha’s Vineyard has postponed its review by Rhode Island regulators to Feb. 19. A vote by a fishermen review board was supposed to happen Jan. 28, followed by a binding vote by the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) on Jan. 29.
Two weeks ago the Fishermen’s Advisory Board (FAB) received a financial compensation offer from Vineyard Wind for the disruption the 84-turbine facility would have on commercial fishing grounds. With money from Vineyard Wind, the FAB hired an economist to study the offer and an attorney to help with legal issues, and now both parties want more time to review and negotiate.
CRMC sent a letter to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) on Jan. 25 asking the agency to refrain from issuing a permit for the project until CRMC renders a decision on the consistency review.
“Vineyard Wind has indicated that they are willing to enter into a further stay agreement provided negotiations proceed in sincerity and if a mitigation agreement with the FAB appears to be attainable,” CRMC executive director Grover Fugate wrote in the letter.
Vineyard Wind, based in New Bedford, Mass., is 50 percent owned by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and 50 percent by Avangrid Renewables. The company was previously granted a 60-day extension by the CRMC on Nov. 27, after the developer sought more time to consider changing the layout of the wind facility or to deliver a buyout plan to the FAB.
The project is under a tight construction schedule and intends to commence this year in order to qualify for a tax credit. On April 6, 2018, Vineyard Wind submitted its application to the CRMC for a 6-month review. The new deadline was Feb. 1, after CRMC granted the extension in November. The new deadline for a decision in Rhode Island is now Feb. 19.
The project is also under review by the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board and the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act Office.