NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (WPRI) — A project to create a wind farm off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard has cleared another hurdle.
The Coastal Resources Management Council met for its semi-monthly meeting at Corless Auditorium at URI Bay Campus Tuesday night.
The council voted to approve Vineyard Wind’s application for an 84-turbine project and a compensation package for fishermen.
In reaction to the approval vote, Vineyard Wind CEO Lars Pederson said in a statement, “We thank the members of the CRMC, the Fisheries Advisory Board, and other fishermen for working with us to develop a package that will allow the offshore wind and fisheries industries to share the ocean resources and grow together.”
Pederson’s statement went on to say, “We are confident that today’s vote, combined with the $16.7 million comprehensive funding package developed in consultation with Rhode Island fishermen and CRMC staff, will allow the Ocean State’s fishing industry to safely operate and grow side-by-side with our project and future offshore wind developments.”
According to Vineyard Wind, the offshore wind farm would be more than 14 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard and would power over 400,000 homes.
The Rhode Island Fishermen’s Alliance is concerned the entire industry is now at risk.
“It will chase pretty much every species out of that area which is an extremely large area,” President of RIFA Richard Fuka said.
At Tuesday’s meeting, several fishermen and residents spoke up in opposition to this project.
“I think we need to go back to the drawing board on this whole thing. You picked the best squid fishing grounds on the eastern seaboard,” said fisherman Jason Jarvis. “If this continues, Rhode Island will not have a commercial fishing industry.”
One woman put it more bluntly, saying, “We have to say no to you. Go home… We don’t want it here. We don’t need it here.”
This project is years in the making and according to their website, Vineyard Wind promises, “The project will generate clean, renewable, cost-competitive energy… while reducing carbon emissions by over 1.6 million tons per year.”
Hank Webster, a Policy Advocate with the Acadia Center in Providence, chimed in at the meeting to provide what he said was objective analysis.
“To effectively avoid the worst impacts of global climate change, like rising sea levels, erosion, ocean warming, and acidification, we must drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors of the economy,” Webster said.
The $6.2 million would go toward compensation for lost access to fishing grounds, according to Vineyard Wind LLC.
The offshore wind development copmany promises the compensation fund would ensure fishermen can safely operate and grow side by side with the project.