"Vineyard Wind 1” Comes Ashore at Covell’s Beach, Barnstable

Author: Jack Vaccaro, Senior Consultant at Epsilon Associates

September 15th, 2022

A day at the beach, offshore wind, and our energy future

It was a hot August afternoon at Covell’s Beach in Barnstable, Massachusetts, one of Cape Cod’s lovely communities and the county seat. Residents seeking relief from yet another seemingly endless summer heatwave had flocked to the popular beach in droves. Its parking lot full, those lucky enough to have already claimed their spot on the beach could gaze out at the boats gliding across Nantucket Sound while keeping a vigilant watch for seals. All in all, it was a typical – albeit exceedingly hot – summer day at a pleasant Cape Cod beach.

That relaxed scene was quite different from how the immediate area had appeared just a few months earlier. Over the winter, while residents hunkered down in their homes or strolled outside bravely, dawning woolen sweaters and windbreakers to fight off the effects of cold winter winds, onshore construction for Vineyard Wind 1, the first utility-scale offshore wind farm to be built in the United States, was at full throttle. For a time, the Covell’s Beach parking lot was the center of some very important construction activity.

Key Takeaways

Greenhouse Gas emissions from the Massachusetts electricity sector must decrease by > 53% by 2025 and 70% by 2030 from 1990 baseline to meet mandated state goals.(1)

Vineyard Wind 1 will deliver 800 megawatts (MW) of clean energy beginning in 2025, enough electricity to power 400,000 Massachusetts homes, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 1.6 million tons per year and creating 3,600 jobs.(2)

3,200 MW of offshore wind is expected to be in operation off Massachusetts’ coast by 2030, enough electricity to power 1.6 million homes.

Vineyard Wind 1: Offshore and Onshore

The Vineyard Wind 1 offshore wind farm, a Joint Venture between AVANGRID and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP)(3) is located on the outer continental shelf in federal waters designated as wind energy areas approximately 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard and 35 miles east of mainland Massachusetts. (View map.) Vineyard Wind 1 will deliver 800 MW of clean energy to the northeast beginning in 2025, enough electricity to power approximately 400,000 Massachusetts homes, reducing carbon emissions in the atmosphere by over 1.6 million tons per year.

The first phase of Vineyard Wind 1’s onshore construction has included work at its future substation site (located in nearby Hyannis) and the installation of several miles of buried duct bank that will house the power cables beneath municipal roads between Covell’s Beach and the substation. Work also included the installation of two 42-inch conduits beneath Covell’s Beach and a nearshore segment of the Nantucket Sound seabed by means of below-surface horizontal directional drilling (HDD) – a specialized construction method used to minimize environmental impact – in preparation for submarine cable-pulling scheduled to commence later this year.

Conduit Installation
Laborers work to detach one of the two 42-inch conduits from the drill string following its successful installation beneath Covell’s Beach and the Nantucket Sound seabed.

AVANGRID, Inc., a sustainable energy company and part of the IBERDROLA Group, recently finalized an agreement to assume responsibility as the operations and management services provider for Vineyard Wind 1, the first commercial-scale offshore wind project in the United States. Vineyard Wind 1, an 800-megawatt offshore wind project owned in a 50-50 Joint Venture between AVANGRID and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) funds CI II and CI III., is currently under construction off the coast of Massachusetts.

Offshore Wind: Big Impact, Big Business

Vineyard Wind 1 and other offshore wind projects like it will enable utilities to re-apportion their energy consumption portfolios to reduce reliance on natural gas-fired powered plants in Massachusetts and elsewhere. The emergence of offshore wind as a significant source of energy comes at an auspicious moment in the history of our planet. As we experience more and more the negative impacts of climate change from carbon emissions that warm our atmosphere and our oceans – including the resulting, unrelenting, and potentially catastrophic rise of sea levels – the science clearly shows that we must move with determination and haste to clean, renewable energy sources to save both save our way of life and the natural world as we know it.

With conditions off our coasts optimal for wind energy generation, and further accelerated by generous government incentives, the offshore wind industry is booming in Massachusetts and across the Northeast. Vineyard Wind 1 is one of several utility-scale offshore wind projects located in federal lease areas south of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket in various stages of development. These projects are already creating jobs and other economic benefits throughout southeastern Massachusetts and will continue to do so in other parts of the state and across the Northeast for years to come.

Vineyard Wind 1 will generate 800 megawatts of electricity annually and power over 400,000 homes, also the equivalent of removing 325,000 vehicles from roadways.

Project NameFederal Lease AreaEstimated Maximum Capacity (MW)In-Service Date
South Fork WindOCS-A 05171302023
Sunrise WindOCS-A 0487 & OCS-A 05001,1222025
Vineyard Wind 1OCS-A 05018002025
Park City WindOCS-A 05348042026
Commonwealth WindOCS-A 05341,2322027-2028
Mayflower WindOCS-A 05212,4002030
Revolution WindOCS-A 0486880?
Beacon WindOCS-A 05202,400?
Vineyard NortheastOCS-A 05223,000?

TABLE 1. Offshore wind projects slated for development off the Massachusetts and Rhode Island Coasts.

State and Federal Mandates and Incentives

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has set a goal of developing enough renewable energy projects to heat homes and power vehicles with minimal use of fossil fuels by 2050 (Massachusetts Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2025 and 2030). To achieve a statewide 50% GHG emissions reduction economy-wide below the 1990 baseline in 2030, GHG emissions from the electricity sector must decrease by more than 53% by 2025 and 70% by 2030(4). Offshore wind plays a pivotal role in this near-miraculous conversion.

The recently passed federal Inflation Reduction Act of 2022(5) includes significant financial incentives to spur on the development of renewable energy projects, including funding for interregional and offshore wind electricity transmission planning, modeling, and analysis, and generous tax credit incentives. Almost 300 pages of the legislation addresses clean energy credits and incentives estimated at $258 billion over a 10-year period, according to the Congressional Research Service(6).

With such laws and mandates now in place, it has become abundantly clear that coastal states will rely heavily on privately developed offshore wind to help close the gap between current and future carbon emission reduction targets.

Construction Ramps Up under Epsilon’s Watchful Eye

As onshore work progressed during the winter of 2021-2022, each of the Vineyard Wind 1 onshore construction areas was closely monitored by Epsilon Associates for compliance with a comprehensive list of environmental permits that had been secured from federal, state, and regulatory authorities (See below Table, “Offshore Wind Permitting: Complex, Painstaking, Essential”). The monitoring of construction at the beach, which required environmental oversight of both onshore and offshore work crews in all kinds of weather, was particularly challenging.

The permitted workspace at Covell’s Beach was strictly limited to the paved surface of the parking lot to protect sensitive environmental habitat nearby. The work was also restricted with respect to time. As stipulated in the Host Community Agreement between Vineyard Wind and the town of Barnstable, it was critical that the site be vacated and fully restored by early May to not interfere with the public’s use of the area during the summer.

Conduit Installation
A view of Covell’s Beach, Barnstable, March 2022

Conduit Installation
A view of Covell’s Beach, Barnstable, August 2022

Epsilon managed the preparation of the Construction and Operations Plan (COP) for Vineyard Wind 1, detailing the Project’s planned construction and operational activities as required by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the lead federal permitting agency. Epsilon energy experts, engineers, coastal scientists, and ecologists have been instrumental in achieving Vineyard Wind’s aggressive schedule milestones.

At the height of construction, the parking lot at Covell’s Beach was almost entirely occupied by the specialized equipment and supplies required for the HDD operations. The work required substantial excavations within the paved parking area, which was ultimately restored following the completion of the work. In the end, the work at Covell’s Beach was completed on schedule and when the beach crowds returned on Memorial Day weekend, there was little evidence that ground-breaking construction of the nation’s first offshore wind farm had occurred over the prior winter. A recently paved parking lot and some newly installed manhole covers were the only visible signs of the recently completed installation.

A Clean Energy Future: Just the Beginning

The Vineyard Wind 1 cable landing at Covell’s Beach is an important start for the US offshore wind industry. But many more projects like it will be needed to significantly reduce our reliance on fossil-fuel powered facilities. Despite the daunting tasks ahead, with 3,200 MW of offshore wind expected to be in operation off the Massachusetts coast by 2030, there is light at the end of this clean energy, decarbonization tunnel. Across the US, 15 offshore wind projects have reached the permitting phase. Eight states have set offshore wind energy procurement goals totaling 39,298 MW by 2040. Reaching those goals would afford clean power to 20 million homes while reducing carbon emissions by 80 million tons every year.

Vineyard Wind 1 will consist of an array of 62 wind turbines, each spaced one nautical mile apart on an east-west and north south orientation. Each turbine is capable of generating 13 megawatts of electricity. Electricity generated by the turbines is collected by an offshore substation prior to being transmitted to shore.

The many Barnstable residents who were fortunate enough to be enjoying the oasis of Covell’s Beach on that hot August day likely experienced feelings of inner peace and happiness so savored by Cape Cod residents and vacationers alike. Our conversion to offshore wind and other clean energy sources will help preserve that experience for future generations, and although the next phase of construction may temporarily impact some area residents during the off-season ahead, that imposition is surely a small price to pay for the collective benefits returned.

Jack Vaccaro, a Senior Consultant at Epsilon Associates, Inc., and life-long resident of Cape Cod, served as the on-site environmental monitor for the duration of the Vineyard Wind HDD operations at Covell’s Beach and was responsible for ensuring permit compliance for both onshore and offshore operations. In this capacity, Jack was granted full access to this unique construction spread which enabled Epsilon to provide valuable compliance guidance and regulatory liaison services to Vineyard Wind on a day-to-day basis.

Postscript - Epsilon continues to work closely with the developers and the Bureau of Energy Ocean Management (BOEM) to permit other offshore wind projects along the U.S. east coast.

For additional information please contact jvaccaro@epsilonassociates.com

For more information regarding Vineyard Wind 1, go to www.vineyardwind.com/vineyardwind-1

Offshore Wind Permitting: Complex, Painstaking, Essential


Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)

Environmental Protection Agency

Army Corps of Engineers

United States Coast Guard

Federal Aviation Administration

National Marine Fisheries Service


MA Department of Environmental Protection

Energy Facilities Siting Board

US Environmental Protection Agency,

MA Division of Marine Fisheries

MA Department of Fish and Wildlife

Cape Cod Commission.

Barnstable Conservation Commission

© 2022 Epsilon Associates, Inc. All rights reserved.

(1) Bethany Card (Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Commonwealth of Massachusetts), Massachusetts Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2025 and 2030, June 30, 2022, p. 79.
(2) Business Wire, AVANGRID Reaches Agreement to Operate First-in-the-Nation Vineyard Wind 1, August 3, 2022.
(3) AVANGRID, Inc., a sustainable energy company and part of the IBERDROLA Group, recently finalized an agreement to assume responsibility as the operations and management services provider for Vineyard Wind 1, the first commercial-scale offshore wind project in the United States. Vineyard Wind 1, an 800-megawatt offshore wind project owned in a 50-50 Joint Venture between AVANGRID and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) funds CI II and CI III., is currently under construction off the coast of Massachusetts.
(4) op. cit., Massachusetts Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2025 and 2030, p. 79
(5) H.R.5376 Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, August 16, 2022.
(6) Delloite, Advancing energy security: Sustainability-related tax provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act. August 18, 2022.

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