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January 2, 2024

Vineyard wind farm still not creating power, one turbine operational

Three large metal pipes, with their tops sticking out about the ocean Image | Courtesy of State House News Service Foundations for three of Vineyard Wind 1's 62 turbines were visible above the water on Aug. 1, 2023. A new site for wind turbines has been designated off the east coast of Massachusetts.

The calendar flipped to 2024 on Monday, but Massachusetts still has not gotten any power from the Vineyard Wind 1 offshore wind farm, the second time the project has failed to meet the "first power" target set by top officials.

A spokesman for Avangrid, which along with Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners makes up the Vineyard Wind 1 joint venture, said Tuesday morning that the first of the project's 62 turbines generated power Sunday evening but that more testing was required before any wind power could be transmitted to the grid. The spokesman gave no new specific timeline for the delivery of first power.

"We are currently working through all the required tests, both internal processes and with ISO New England, and synchronizing all components to deliver power to shore soon," he said. 

A top project official said in August that the first power generated by the offshore development about 15 miles south of Martha's Vineyard would flow onto the grid by mid-October. The official said at the time that the roughly 800-megawatt project would be ramped up to between 200 and 300 MW by the end of 2023, and then it would be fully operational by mid-2024.

"The first power is scheduled October 2023 and final commercial operation will be mid-2024," Sy Oytan, Avangrid's chief operating officer for offshore wind, told state lawmakers and reporters during an August boat tour of the project site.

When the mid-October timeline was not realized -- which meant Vineyard Wind 1 missed out on being the first utility-scale wind farm in the country, a designation that project officials had been touting for years -- officials went back to what they had maintained for years: that turbines would be generating power by the end of 2023.

"We'll actually be turning on the switch in 2023 and generating clean electricity. We expect about 30,000 homes in Massachusetts will get clean power from this facility this year," Ken Kimmell, vice president of offshore wind development at Avangrid, said Dec. 14.

On Dec. 27, Vineyard Wind wrote in a public newsletter that it was "on track to deliver the first power ... by the end of the year."

While the first turbine generated power before 2023 officially came to a close, it's still not clear when the energy will actually flow onto the grid and into Massachusetts homes.

Once it is fully operational, Vineyard Wind 1 is projected to generate cleaner electricity for more than 400,000 homes and businesses in Massachusetts, produce at least 3,600 jobs, reduce costs for Massachusetts ratepayers by an estimated $1.4 billion over 20 years, and eliminate 1.68 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.

The continued development of the offshore wind sector is seen as crucial to meeting the new climate and emissions goals Massachusetts has adopted, specifically the requirement to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Vineyard Wind 1 was the first offshore wind project selected by Massachusetts utility companies with input from the Baker administration to fulfill part of a 2016 clean energy law, and is likely to be the only Massachusetts offshore wind project to become a reality until at least 2028 as subsequent projects have run into headwinds that developers determined threatened their ability to finance their projects and resulted in the termination of those contracts.

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