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Federal regulators to conduct environmental review of Vineyard Wind project

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Federal regulators to conduct environmental review of Vineyard Wind project

Federal regulators are working on an environmental review of the Vineyard Offshore Wind Project that its developers hope will be selected pursuant to a group of utilities' solicitation for clean energy in Massachusetts.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, or BOEM, announced March 29 that it filed a notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement on Vineyard Wind LLC's 800-MW offshore wind project. It also opened a 30-day public comment period and said it will hold five public scoping meetings. The notice of intent (Docket No. BOEM-2018-0015) will be published in the Federal Registrar on March 30.

"The offshore wind industry continues to advance at a rapid rate, and the administration's commitment to energy security as well as strong state leadership will ensure its success," BOEM acting Director Walter Cruickshank said in a statement. "BOEM will work with industry, government partners, and other key stakeholders to make sure that any development is done in an environmentally safe and responsible manner. Public input plays an essential role for identifying and mitigating any potential impacts from proposed development activities."

As part of the state's clean energy mandate for utilities to procure 1,600 MW of offshore wind, New England utilities National Grid USA, Eversource Energy and Unitil Corp. created a joint request for proposals for offshore wind projects. The Vineyard Wind project is the first bidder in Massachusetts' offshore wind solicitation to get a start on the environmental impact statement. Two other projects are competing with Vineyard Wind: Deepwater Wind and National Grid's Revolution Wind project, and Ørsted A/S and Eversource's Bay State Wind project.

To avoid potential a conflict of interest with the utilities, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources and state Attorney General Maura Healey's office has a third-party, Peregrine Energy Group, overseeing the bid evaluation process. The deadline for selecting one or more projects is April 23.