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First Major Offshore Wind Farm Has OK

Administration approves 62 turbines off Martha's Vineyard, with many more likely
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 11, 2021 2:08 PM CDT

(Newser) – The Biden administration took a significant step toward expanding the use of wind power on Tuesday, approving the nation's first major offshore wind farm. The project will place 62 turbines, which can generate enough electricity to power 400,000 homes, off Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, the Washington Post reports. The Vineyard Wind installation will create about 3,600 jobs, the administration estimates. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on Tuesday called the approval "a significant milestone in our efforts to build a clean and more equitable energy future while addressing the climate emergency." The administration has said it will decide on another 13 projects by 2025 as it tries to shift from fossil fuels. More than 3,000 wind turbines eventually could be installed in the Atlantic from Maine to North Carolina. The goal is to harness 30,000 megawatts of electricity from offshore turbines, enough to power 10 million homes, by 2030.

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Cables will be buried six feet below the ocean floor to bring the electricity from the Vineyard Wind turbines to shore. They'll end at Cape Cod, connecting to a substation that will send the energy to the New England grid, per the New York Times. There are concerns about the $2.8 billion project's effect on marine life, including the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale, whose migration path runs through the area where the wind farms are planned. Avoiding the turbines at sea could reduce the commercial fishing catch, hurting the local economy. And waterfront communities say the turbines detract from the beauty of the ocean. Work on the cables is to begin next year, with construction of the turbines to follow the next two years. (Wind turbines outperformed alternatives during Texas' power outage.)

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