Environmental Consulting & Engineering Services - from Concept to Reality
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Cape Wind Renewable Energy Project
In 2001, ESS was retained as the lead environmental consultant for the Cape Wind Renewable Energy Project, an offshore wind farm proposed for Nantucket Sound, Massachusetts capable of producing up to 468 MW of clean, renewable energy. Once completed, the project will be one of the largest offshore wind power generation facilities in the world. The project is the first US offshore wind facility to receive a commercial lease from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and approval of a Construction and Operations Plan (COP). Cape Wind has completed all required federal, state, and local permitting and has begun pre-construction Geological and Geophysical (G&G) survey activities to support final project design.
To assist the Project Team in evaluating locations for the offshore wind farm and its electrical interconnections to the mainland, ESS conducted desktop studies using existing data in combination with Geographic Information System (GIS) technology. ESS prepared concept plans for various project alternatives detailing meteorological conditions, bathymetric data, wave and current regimes, navigational features, natural resources, land use and zoning, and regulatory jurisdictions.
Once a site was selected, ESS and the Project Team created a development schedule and strategy for regulatory approval of the project. Regulatory agencies ranging from the US Department of the Interior to local wetlands commissions had some jurisdiction over the wind farm or its upland connections and were involved in its review and approval. ESS conducted agency outreach meetings to confirm permit application requirements and seek opportunities for coordination and integration of the various agency reviews.
The ESS Civil Engineering group worked with the project’s mechanical and power engineers to site the project components and develop conceptual routing for submarine and upland electric transmission cables and interconnections. ESS also prepared plans and drawings to support permit applications.
ESS conducted extensive technical studies for the project to assess potential environmental impacts. These studies included surveys of seabed geology, fish habitat, and marine invertebrates, as well as air quality modeling, and navigational risk assessment. To address endangered species, ESS developed an Avian and Bat Monitoring Plan and an Incidental Harassment Authorization for marine mammals. ESS also supported the client in National Historic Preservation Act consultations for the project.
As one of the first projects of its kind proposed in the United States, Cape Wind attracted both public support and opposition. Over the past decade, ESS has assisted with informational public meetings for stakeholder groups and attended regulatory hearings on behalf of the project.
ESS prepared environmental impact assessments and filed numerous permit applications to local, state, regional, and federal agencies. These ranged from comprehensive Environmental Impact Reports and resource management plans to Coastal Zone Management Consistency Statements and ESS prepared and submitted a Navigational Risk Assessment to the US Coast Guard (USCG) to evaluate potential project impacts to marine vessel traffic and USCG search and rescue operations. ESS also filed and obtained Determinations of No Hazard with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the wind turbines. ESS prepared a Construction and Operations Plan (COP) for the project, which was the first of its kind approved under current BOEM regulations.
ESS has worked with the Project Team to develop various construction techniques and management plans that address permit conditions for controlling potential project impacts. ESS will be conducting environmental monitoring and compliance inspections for the upland and offshore components of project construction. ESS is currently providing on-board environmental monitoring and permit compliance oversight for vessels invovled in preconstruction G&G survey activities.
During operation, the wind farm will continue to be monitored for compliance with the environmental protection provisions of its permits and approvals. ESS expects to continue its surveys of avian and bat activity, seabed geology and biota, and other environmental resources of interest.