CENTERVILLE − The project was mentioned as a clue under the "I Bid" category on the gameshow "Jeopardy!" when show #8732 was aired on Monday. The question, "In 2018 Vineyard Wind, based in this state, successfully bid $135 million for a lease on a wind power area off the coast," was correctly answered by contestant Jonathan Fisher, of Florida, earning him $1,200 toward his winnings.
Out beyond the windy alley between Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, work has begun on laying down the first section of submarine cable that will eventually deliver ocean wind-generated power miles north to the shores of Cape Cod, landing at Covell Beach in Centerville.
Vineyard Wind, touted as the nation's first commercial-scale, off-shore wind farm, on Tuesday reported that it has started cabling work in the company's lease area about 15 miles south of the Vineyard. Two vessels are working in tandem to lay the first 9-mile section of cable, which involves deploying a plow-like device that opens a trench as the cable is threaded into it, with minimal disturbance of the seabed. A heavy anchor in front of the cable-laying vessel allows the ship to pull itself forward slowly as the cable is doled out, and once in the trench, the cable is buried naturally through the action of underwater currents.
Vineyard Wind is developing an 800-megawatt wind farm that will generate electricity for more than 400,000 homes and businesses in Massachusetts, starting next year. It is expected to reduce carbon emissions by more than 1.6 million metric tons per year, which is equivalent to taking 325,000 cars off the road annually, according to the company.
For a project that is blazing a trail of first steps toward large-scale off-shore wind production in the U.S., Vineyard Wind CEO Klaus Moeller observed that "the beginning of offshore cable installation is perhaps the most significant (first) we have achieved so far" − a step that was at least five years in the making as the project underwent local, state and federal review.
Prysmian Group is also planning a factory in Somerset that will manufacture offshore wind subsea cables − an undertaking that will come in handy with multiple off-shore wind projects under consideration in Massachusetts. With an eye toward leading the nation in offshore wind development, taking advantage of the steady winds known to blow off its shores, the state has provided at least six lease sites for wind farms south of Martha's Vineyard, and just west of the Nantucket Shoals. Vineyard Wind, 50% owned by Avangrid, is the first to complete permitting.
Commonwealth Wind and Park City Wind, both of which are also proposed to land cables in Barnstable, are two other projects associated with Avangrid that are at the start of review. An environmental notification form was recently filed for Commonwealth Wind's proposed landing at Dowses Beach in Barnstable, which has raised concerns among local residents. They worry the beach is too delicate for the work and are pressing for the company and the town to look at other sites.
Assisting with the cable work being undertaken by Prysmian's vessel, Cable Enterprise, and Foss Maritime's off-shore tug, Nicole Foss, is Sea Services' fishing vessel, Fleet King, to coordinate communication with fishermen and other mariners in the work area. The aim is to avoid entanglements with fishing gear, as well as to keep fishermen informed.
Cabling work will continue into the first part of next year. In coming weeks, nearshore cable installation will also begin off Covell Beach.
Mariners can sign up for email and text updates at www.vineyardwind.com/fisheries
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This article originally appeared on Cape Cod Times: Vineyard Wind project laying cable in ocean off Martha's Vineyard