PEOPLE FLOCK TO to Barnstable for the beaches, but offshore wind developers are coming to that section of Cape Cod for a different reason.
Ken Kimmell, vice president of offshore wind development at Avangrid, said the Cape is a unique location as far as his industry is concerned. “One of the things I learned on this job is that there is a relative shortage of places along the East Coast that can connect to the electric grid and have the capacity to take the power,” he said on The Codcast. “Barnstable happens to be one of those relatively small number of places that has the capacity to take the power.”
In addition to access to the region’s power grid, Kimmell said Barnstable is also relatively close to the wind farm lease area (25 to 40 miles away), which keeps costs down for developers and ratepayers. “We’re saving ratepayers money because the longer the transmission line the more the project costs,” Kimmell said. “That’s really why we’re in Barnstable.”
Three wind farm developers currently have plans to use Barnstable as their interconnection point to the power grid. Making Barnstable the landing point for all three transmission lines allows the cables to follow roughly the same path from the wind farms to shore, reducing the impact on the ocean floor. And Barnstable is also benefiting, through developer payments to the town and financial and technical support in building a municipal sewer system to address nitrogen pollution caused by leaking septic systems.
“By locating in Barnstable we not only get climate change and clean energy benefits, we get direct water quality benefits, which addresses one of the biggest threats people on the Cape have, which is water quality deterioration,” Kimmell said.
Kimmell dismissed concerns raised by two residents on a recent Codcast about bringing power ashore on bucolic Cape Cod rather than closer to major population centers where the power is needed. He said Vineyard Wind’s already-completed transmission line coming ashore at Covell’s Beach is the answer to those concerns.
“It looks just like it did before, no sign that anything happened there,” Kimmell said, noting that the only difference is that the new parking lot at Covell’s now has manhole covers.
He said the same construction approach that was used at Covell’s Beach will be used at the other Barnstable beaches. “When we do the work at Dowses Beach [in Osterville], we’re going to be drilling under the beach. We’re not going to be tearing it up. We’re not going to be digging trenches,” he said.
Kimmell said the high voltage power lines running beneath the beaches and town streets don’t present any danger to residents. “We don’t think there’s a safety issue here at all,” he said.
Somerset’s Brayton Point, the site of a former coal-fired power plant with a built-in connection to the power grid, is being pursued by SouthCoast Wind as the landing spot for a transmission line from its proposed wind farm. Aside from Brayton Point, there are no other interconnection points being talked about in Massachusetts other than Barnstable.
Offshore wind developers currently are responsible for delivering the power they produce to the grid. States are talking about having offshore wind developers share transmission infrastructure in the future to save costs and to reduce the spread of transmission lines, but Kimmell said right now that’s just an idea with many questions that need to be answered.
“These questions can be resolved, but I’ve been in the development and permitting business for a very long time and I think it’s fair to say if you add up all the time it will take to plan this transmission, get buy in, figure out who’s funding it, deal with the technical issues, and then go through permitting, you’re a decade away from actually having a shared system,” he said.
In the meantime, Kimmell said, roadblocks shouldn’t be thrown in the way of current interconnection points in Barnstable and Brayton Point in Somerset. “Climate change isn’t waiting,” he said.
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FROM AROUND THE WEB
My bad, says Boston City Councilor Kendra Lara, breaking her silence on Saturday, a week and day after crashing into a Jamaica Plain house in an unregistered, uninsured car she was operating with a suspended driver’s license. (Boston Globe)
Former mayor and labor secretary Marty Walsh is wading back into Boston politics to back John FitzGerald in the race to replace District 3 City Councilor Frank Baker. (Dorchester Reporter)
A pilot program will expand the MetroWest Regional Transit Authority’s Catch Connect program, allowing riders to request a $2 pick-up and drop-off curb-to-curb in Hudson. (MetroWest Daily News)
Massachusetts is lagging in electric and hybrid vehicle registrations. (Eagle-Tribune)
National Grid agreed to pay $5.3 million to federal and state agencies to settle claims over environmental damage caused by the Gloucester Gas Light Co., which closed in 1952. (Associated Press)
Some 70 Massachusetts beaches are designated as unsafe due to bacteria or algae levels. (MassLive)
The US Justice Department’s Office of Special Counsel turned down the Boston Herald’s public information request for the full transcripts of its interviews with former US attorney Rachael Rollins and others during its investigation of her tenure. (Boston Herald)
Police departments across the state are considering ditching civil service hiring procedures, which they say are an impediment to hiring the kinds of officers they want. (Boston Globe)