A green energy project was not financially viable until Democrat President Joe Biden’s administration intervened and removed safeguards designed to protect taxpayers, according to newly emerged internal documents.
The 800-megawatt Vineyard Wind project in Massachusetts recently became the first utility-scale offshore wind project to deliver electricity to the grid.
However, unearthed communications show that federal officials with Biden’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) acknowledged that granting a waiver on development fees designed to safeguard taxpayers was “critical” for the green energy project.
The docs show that, in June 2021, BOEM ultimately waived the financial assurance for the decommissioning costs fee for the project.
The documents were obtained by the watchdog group Protect the Public’s Trust (PPT).
Michael Chamberlain, the director of PPT, which obtained the documents, warns that the revelation proves that the green energy agenda is already “dead in the water.”
“The more we dig into the details of the Vineyard Wind project the more concerning it becomes,” Chamberlain said in a statement.
“The Biden administration brags that this is the first utility-scale offshore wind project.
“But clearly, without BOEM contorting the approval process and waiving requirements meant to protect taxpayers, Vineyard is unlikely to ever have gotten off the ground.
“Both BOEM and the developer have admitted as much.
“This situation does not bode well,” Chamberlain continued.
“If government has to bend the rules to make these projects feasible, it’s just a matter of time before the ‘clean energy transition’ is dead in the water.
“The only questions may be how many taxpayer resources are put at risk and how much of the American public’s trust is squandered before it happens.”
On June 15, 2021, BOEM Office of Renewable Energy Programs Chief James Bennett sent a letter to Vineyard Wind’s developer.
Bennett informed the firm that the agency had approved a March 2021 request to waive the fee.
Under the action, Vineyard Wind isn’t required to pay the development fee until 15 years after the project enters operations under its 20-year power purchase agreements.
Vineyard Wind first submitted the request in December 2017.
However, that request was rejected by President Donald Trump’s administration.
The rejection forced the developer to resubmit it in March 2021.
The federal statute mandates that developers pay the fee before construction on their lease, a potentially hefty fee designed to guarantee federal property is returned to its original state after a lessee departs its lease.
In addition, Meredith Lilley, an energy program specialist at BOEM’s Office of Renewable Energy Programs, acknowledged in an internal email also on June 15, 2021, that waiving the fee by August 2021 was vital to ensure Vineyard Wind could maintain financial viability.
The move notably came one month before BOEM approved the project’s construction and operations plan.
“Issuing a decision to Vineyard Wind on this request is critical to enabling them to carry on with the Vineyard Wind 1 Project because it is a key determinant of the project’s value, which Vineyard Wind needs to know now in order to secure financing and achieve financial close in early August,” Lilley wrote in the email to other federal officials involved in internal deliberations.
According to Bennett, BOEM waived the fee because the project included risk reduction factors.
Those factors supposedly include insurance policies to cover damages, the use of proven wind turbine technology, and the use of power purchase agreements “with guaranteed electricity sales prices that, coupled with the consistent supply of wind energy, ensure a predictable income over the life of the project.”
The letter also stated that the “regulatory departure” would reduce Vineyard Wind’s financial assurance burden, enabling the developer to invest freed-up capital in construction and enabling the project to enter operations sooner.
In addition, it explained the fee was waived also because it “promotes the production and transmission of energy from a source other than oil and gas.”
“In 2021, per its regulatory authority, BOEM approved Vineyard Wind 1’s request to defer providing the full amount of its decommissioning financial assurance until year 15 of actual operations under its 20-year Power Purchase Agreement for the Vineyard Wind 1 offshore wind energy project offshore Massachusetts,” a BOEM spokesperson said in a statement.
“BOEM deferred this requirement for Vineyard Wind 1 with the condition that such financial assurance would be provided in full during a time when the project risk is low — that is, during the time when the offshore wind lessee has guaranteed financial support through an assured price for the electricity generated by the project,” the spokesperson added.
The revelation comes days after Vineyard Wind’s developers, lawmakers, and environmental groups celebrated the project beginning to send electricity to the grid.
The milestone was achieved after one wind turbine entered operations at the offshore site which will eventually host 62 turbines.
After the turbine began producing electricity on January 2, the Sierra Club said the project “will aid tremendously in reducing dangerous fossil fuel air pollution” and fellow eco group the Conservation Law Foundation added that “New England’s transition away from polluting fossil fuels and towards clean, renewable energy is underway in earnest.”
Vineyard Wind is a joint venture between Danish energy developer Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and New England utility services company Avangrid.
The project was first proposed years ago but was fast-tracked once President Biden entered office.
In May 2021, the Department of the Interior (DOI) formally approved the project, marking the first utility-scale offshore wind farm to receive federal approval.
Then, in July 2021, BOEM approved Vineyard Wind’s construction and operations plan.
Four months later, DOI Secretary Deb Haaland joined then-Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and other officials for the commemorative groundbreaking of the project in Barnstable, Massachusetts.