Massachusetts has allowed each of seven offshore wind companies to run their own onshore submarine cables and future cables to land locations extremely close to residential home locations.
This current method will leave the offshore wind sites looking like a bowl of spaghetti with cables all over the place. This method is not the best method for the environment, fisheries, and cost to electric ratepayers. Each of these seven companies will run their cables and future cables to the closest land location they can find.
One example is an onshore buried cable from under a Barnstable beach through residential neighborhoods to Independence Park in Hyannis, Massachusetts. The result is the electric grid operator has to upgrade the grid at taxpayers' expense to get the power off the Cape to Boston.
The next example is Falmouth, Massachusetts where residential homeowners came out promising lawsuits against the second offshore wind company. They want to bury cables with hundreds of thousands of volts through residential neighborhoods. The amount of power to be buried in the neighborhoods is 800 megawatts or about the same output as the Cape Cod Canal nuclear power plant. In addition, future wind companies may follow the same route doubling or tripling the amount of power.
Also, the onshore route through Falmouth requires ISO New England to approve rebuilding the electric route off the cape to accept the increase in megawatts, and again electric ratepayers will pay the freight again rather than the offshore wind company.
Muskeget Channel between Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket under the current plans will be the offshore wind highway to the mainland with an unknown number of cables.
More recently another wind company has requested a land route through the residential community of Portsmouth, Rhode Island crossing through residential neighborhoods and across the only gas line that feeds Portsmouth, Middletown, and Newport. The Rhode Island Energy Facility Siting Board is holding a hearing on August 18, 2022. Towns along the cable route have hired legal representation to intervene in the hearing.
The main major problem is the expensive cost of submarine cable at a cost of over two million dollars a mile and up. The Block Island wind farm made up of five wind turbines cost 330 million dollars. The cables were more expensive than the five million dollar wind turbines.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee recently signed climate legislation that produces massive amounts of offshore wind by 2027 and 2030 but given the problems of permitting onshore cables and building onshore power substations in residential locations hopes are making the timeline look dim.
The correct method is a planned method that reduces the need for seven or more wind companies to run multiple cables and future cables through residential communities all along the coast where the majority of the population lives. NIMBY used to mean "not in my backyard" but under the current ocean wind plans "next it maybe you."
The planned method solution requires all the offshore wind companies to work together sharing. This method requires a one-time installation of submarine cables directly to the cities that use the power.
The first method requires all the offshore wind companies to build one established ocean grid or the second has a private offshore cable company develop the grid and the wind companies pay a fee to use the cable route.
The third and the best solution would be to have the federal government under the recently passed climate bill called the Inflation Reduction Act to build the offshore wind submarine super highway. The government owns all the submarine cables directly to the major cities such as Boston, Fall River Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Providence Rhode Island.
The federal government in turn charges the offshore wind companies a toll to use the offshore wind highway. Everybody wins including the fishing industry and the environment. The planned method saves taxpayers, ratepayers, and offshore wind companies hundreds of millions of dollars.
The bottom line do it once and do it right.