NEW BEDFORD — Bay State Wind has installed three meteorological buoys south of Martha’s Vineyard for a proposed offshore wind project after receiving the nation’s first federal approval to do so June 29.
A pair of 11-by-21-foot yellow platform buoys measure wave and wind speeds. A third buoy, round and about 4 feet wide, measures wave direction and currents. They are moored in Bay State Wind’s leased development area, which starts about 15 nautical miles south of the island.
Thomas Brostrøm, North America president of project co-owner DONG Energy, hailed the federal approval as a “huge step.”
“We are thrilled to be the first in the country to receive this approval from BOEM, and to be a part of this huge step forward for the offshore wind industry in the U.S.,” he said in a press release.
The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management approved the plan, called a Site Assessment Plan, to place the monitoring devices at sea. The first U.S. offshore wind project, the five-turbine Block Island Wind Farm, did not need the same approval because it is not in federal waters.
Bay State Wind, one of three companies competing for Massachusetts’ first offshore wind contract, is a joint venture between Denmark-based DONG Energy and the utility company Eversource.
Although the platform buoys reach less than 14 feet high, they measure wind speed at the height of a turbine by projecting lasers, according to Lauren Burm, a spokeswoman for DONG Energy. They will be in place for about two years, and they have cameras that post photographs online.
The platform buoys are a model called the FLiDAR WindSentinel, and the round buoy is the TRIAXYS, both by AXYS Technologies of Canada.
The other two competitors for one or more wind contracts scheduled to be awarded by April 23, 2018, are: Vineyard Wind, co-owned by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Avangrid Renewables; and Deepwater Wind, the Rhode Island company behind the Block Island project.
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A landmark state energy law signed in August 2016 requires electricity distribution companies — Eversource, National Grid, and Unitil — to buy long-term contracts for at least 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind power in the next decade, enough to power hundreds of thousands of homes.