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Federal regulators pause Vineyard Wind review due to government shutdown

Federal regulators paused their review of the Vineyard Offshore Wind Project amid the partial government shutdown, but the project developer is confident the hiatus will not significantly push back the aggressive construction timeline.

The U.S. Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is unable to process Vineyard Wind LLC's draft environmental impact statement during the shutdown, a spokesperson for Vineyard Wind confirmed to S&P Global Market Intelligence. The agency has also postponed two meetings originally scheduled for Jan. 8-9 in Massachusetts and Rhode Island to solicit feedback from the public.

If the shutdown ends before Jan. 14, the BOEM will still have three public meetings scheduled for Jan. 15-17 across Cape Cod. If the shutdown continues, those meetings will also be postponed.

Vineyard Wind, a joint venture between Avangrid Renewables LLC and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners K/S, is aiming to start construction on the 800-MW offshore wind farm in 2019 and bring the first 400 MW of the facility on line in December 2021. A significant delay in the permitting process could thwart the developer's ambitious schedule.

Vineyard Wind submitted the draft EIS on Dec. 3. Stakeholders can still submit comments on the Federal Register docket through Jan. 22, and those comments will help inform the final EIS. The shutdown does not affect the review of Vineyard Wind's environmental report to Massachusetts' Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

A BOEM spokesperson was unable to comment due to being furloughed during the shutdown.