Continued Progress with Vineyard Wind 1 is Promising for Offshore Wind Power

March 29, 2021 by Rachel Schwartz

Line of offshore wind turbines. Photo by Pål Espen Bondestad, licensed under

On March 8, 2021, the Biden Administration took a significant step toward finalizing the approval of America’s first commercial-scale offshore wind farm. Vineyard Wind 1, located 14 miles off the coast of Massachusetts, has the potential to power 400,000 homes.

Located 14 miles off the shore of Martha’s Vineyard, Vineyard Wind 1 is in the home stretch of gaining the approval it needs to operate as America’s first commercial-scale offshore wind project.[1]  On March 8, 2021, the Biden Administration announced that the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) had released the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) on Vineyard Wind 1.[2]  The FEIS is the last step that the Department of Interior takes before it issues an approval or denial of the wind project.[3]

The FEIS assesses a range of potential impacts that the construction, operation, maintenance, and decommissioning of Vineyard 1 could have on the surrounding areas.[4]  BOEM uses the FEIS information collected on potential environmental, social, cultural, economic, and historical impacts to inform whether an offshore wind farm should receive the final stamp of approval needed to move into construction.[5] The approval of Vineyard Wind 1 will likely be used as a template to help other wind developers in the region navigate the complex permitting framework that has often ensnared wind projects on the Eastern Seaboard.[6]

The Biden Administration has signaled that offshore wind has the potential to play a large role in the Administration’s fight against climate change.[7] Approving Vineyard Wind 1 would be a large step towards meeting the Administration’s goal to double America’s offshore wind production by 2030.[8]  Currently, the United States has two existing small-scale wind farms off the Atlantic coast.[9]  Block Island Wind Farm, off Rhode Island, and the Virginia Coastal Offshore Wind pilot project generate 30 megawatts and 12 megawatts of wind power respectively.[10]  If the current plan is approved, Vineyard 1 could become operational as soon as 2023 and will produce an additional 800 megawatts of power, which is enough energy to power 400,000 homes.[11]

The United States has lagged significantly behind Europe in its investments in offshore wind despite estimates by the Department of Energy that the United States has the potential to realistically produce over 2,000 gigawatts of power from offshore wind farms.[12]  Community backlash has often plagued potential commercial offshore wind projects in the United States.[13]  Cape Wind, Vineyard Wind’s offshore neighbor, was halted after sixteen years of trying to get the project off the ground while battling intense community and political scrutiny.[14]

The somewhat tumultuous path to approval for the $2.8 billion Vineyard Wind 1 project illustrates another reason why the United States has been unable to hit the ground running in the offshore wind market.[15] In 2019, Vineyard Wind’s developers withdrew their proposal for Vineyard Wind 1 after the Trump Administration stalled its review due to mounting concerns that the wind farm would adversely affect the commercial fishing industry in Massachusetts.[16] The Vineyard Wind 1 proposal includes promised compensation funds for the fishing industry up to $25.4 million,[17] but many fishing industry advocates continue to argue that the impacts on the fishing industry are being brushed aside.[18]

These concerns still have the ability to stall the Vineyard 1 project, but statements from the Biden Administration suggest that the approval for Vineyard 1 is imminent.[19] The approval of Vineyard 1 will likely be followed by a quickening of approval for several other commercial-scale projects in the Atlantic, including the nearby Mayflower Wind of Nantucket, which is projected to start generating energy as soon as 2025.[20] Overall, the approval of Vineyard 1 Wind has the potential to be the first concrete step towards what members of the industry agree is a bright future on the horizon for offshore wind development in the United States.[21]



[1] See Rachel Frazin, Interior Moves Closer to Approving First US Commercial-Scale Offshore Wind Project, The Hill (Mar. 8, 2021),

[2] See Press Release, Dep’t of Interior, Interior Completes Environmental Review for Offshore Wind Project (Mar. 8, 2021).

[3] See Frazin, supra note 1.

[4] See Bureau of Ocean Energy Mgmt., Vineyard Wind 1 Offshore Wind Energy Project Final Environmental Impact Statement Volume I (2021),

[5] See id.

[6] See Frazin, supra note 1.

[7] See Press Release, Dep’t of Interior, Fact Sheet: President to Take Action to Uphold Commitment to Restore Balance on Public Lands and Waters, Invest in Clean Energy (Jan. 27, 2021),

[8] See id.

[9] See Frazin, supra note 1.

[10] See id.

[11] See id.

[12] See Anmar Frangoul, Europe’s Offshore Wind Sector Saw a Record $31 Billion of Investment in 2020, CNBC (Feb. 8, 2021),; Liz Hartman, Computing America’s Offshore Wind Energy Potential, Dep’t of Energy (Sept. 9, 2016),

[13] See Katharine Q. Seelye, After 16 Years, Hopes for Cape Cod Wind Farm Float Away, N.Y. Times (Dec. 19, 2017),

[14] See id.

[15] See Jon Chesto & Jeremy C. Fox, Offshore Wind Project Off Martha’s Vineyard Nears Approval, Boston Globe (Mar. 8, 2021),

[16] See id.

[17] See Frazin, supra note 1.

[18] See Chesto & Fox, supra note 15.

[19] See Frazin, supra note 1.

[20] See Chesto & Fox, supra note 15.

[21] See id.