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New era in offshore wind: South Fork powers up; Vineyard Wind poised to electrify 5 turbines

Vineyard Wind CEO Klaus Moeller, left, and Andrew Doba, director of communications, discussed cable installation work at Covell's Beach in Barnstable, January 17, 2023.
Jennette Barnes
/
CAI
Vineyard Wind CEO Klaus Moeller, left, and Andrew Doba, director of communications, discussed cable installation work at Covell's Beach in Barnstable, January 17, 2023.

A major offshore wind farm has electrified its first turbine — but it’s not Vineyard Wind, which was the first large wind farm to receive federal approval.

South Fork Wind, located off Aquinnah, announced Wednesday that its first turbine — one of two in the water — is generating power and delivering it to Long Island.

Vineyard Wind isn’t far behind in its plans to power up. About an hour after South Fork issued a news release, Vineyard Wind announced that construction of its first five turbines was complete.

Vineyard has long pledged to generate power by the end of 2023, and that’s still the plan, said Ken Kimmell, chief development officer at parent company Avangrid Renewables, in an interview with CAI.

“I can't give you the exact date,” he said. “There's still some things — some steps that need to be taken. But we are looking good … at getting those powered up by the end of the year.”

Installation continues. Vineyard Wind will have 62 turbines, each with 13 megawatts of capacity. South Fork Wind will have 12 turbines at 11 megawatts each.

Together, they’ll power 470,000 homes.

Kimmell said that despite all the talk of firsts, this isn’t a race.

“We're not in a race here, okay?” he said. “We're building this wind farm to deal with climate change, and create jobs, and give new opportunities for people in this new industry.”

The new chief executive officer of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, Emily Reichert, hailed the startup of turbines as a momentous step, no matter which project flipped the switch first.

“This is a hard won victory,” she said. “Offshore wind is not an easy thing to get off the ground.”

She said competition can be a motivator, but she’s focused on the big picture — like the state’s ambition to be a national hub for East Coast offshore wind.

“I'd say that we want to lean into collaboration,” she said. “All of these are important developments, and what we want to see is that the offshore wind industry grows.”

A new round of bids are due in January for the largest Massachusetts wind procurement yet — 3,600 megawatts, enough to provide one-quarter of the state’s demand.

Multi-state bids will be considered for the first time, following Governor Maura Healey’s agreement to work with Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Jennette Barnes is a reporter and producer. Named a Master Reporter by the New England Society of News Editors, she brings more than 20 years of news experience to CAI.