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US federal environmental review started for offshore Revolution Wind power project

Highlights

Project has maximum capacity of 880 MW

Expected in service around mid-decade

The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management April 29 said it is preparing an environmental review for the 880-MW offshore Revolution Wind project to supply power to Rhode Island and Massachusetts, a key regulatory milestone for the project and east coast offshore wind development.

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The process starts with the publication of a Notice of Intent that opens a 30-day public comment period, during which time BOEM will hold three virtual public scoping meetings and accept comments to inform the preparation of the environmental impact statement, according to the agency.

"Public input plays an essential role in identifying and mitigating any potential impacts from proposed energy development activities," BOEM Director Amanda Lefton, said in a statement.

The Revolution Wind project has 400 MW of capacity contracted for delivery to Rhode Island and 304 MW contracted with utility offtakers in Connecticut. The project is being jointly developed by Massachusetts-based Eversource Energy and Denmark-based Ørsted.

"Ørsted and Eversource are pleased that BOEM has issued its Notice of Intent for Revolution Wind, representing the start of the project's formal federal environmental review and marking the project's most significant permitting milestone to-date," the developers said in an emailed statement.

"We look forward to BOEM's review as it moves toward issuing a final Environmental Impact Statement for this historic offshore wind project," Revolution said.

The Biden administration has set a target of 30 GW of installed offshore wind power capacity by 2030. The US currently has a 30-MW offshore wind project operating in state waters off Rhode Island and a 12-MW pilot project in federal waters offshore Virginia.

The Revolution Wind project would be in federal waters roughly 17 nautical miles south of Rhode Island, with the transmission cable making landfall at Quonset Point in North Kingstown. The wind power would interconnect to the electric transmission system via the existing Davisville Substation, which is owned and operated by National Grid, in North Kingstown, according to BOEM.

The project would have a total capacity between 704 MW and 880 MW generated from 100 turbines and up to two offshore substations, BOEM said.

Revolution Wind is "unlikely to achieve" an end of 2023 in-service date, according to an investor presentation discussed during Eversource's first quarter 2021 earnings call. Executives had previously expected the project to enter service by the end of 2023, but blamed permitting delays for pushing back the timeline.

Regional offshore wind development

BOEM issued a final environmental impact statement March 8 for the 800-MW Vineyard Wind offshore wind farm off the Massachusetts Coast, which was an important offshore wind industry milestone as it represented the penultimate step in the federal permitting process for the Vineyard Wind 1 project, which if approved, would be the first large-scale offshore wind farm in the US.

Other recent developments include Maine proposing legislation on April 28 to prohibit offshore wind power development in state waters for ten years to protect the fishing industry.

Wind development will be supported in federal waters further offshore, according to a statement from Governor Janet Mills' office.

The moratorium would set aside state waters for "valuable fishing and recreation," while reaffirming Maine's priority of locating offshore wind projects in the Gulf of Maine's federal waters where the state has proposed the nation's first research array for floating offshore wind technology, the statement said.

Nearly 75% of Maine's commercial lobster harvesting occurs in state waters, the governor's office said.

"Fundamentally, I do not believe offshore wind and Maine's fishing industry are mutually exclusive," Mills said.