Falmouth Heights Remains Option For SouthCoast Wind Despite Portsmouth Vote

Article by NOELLE ANNONEN, The Falmouth Enterprise, page 3, and online.

This map shows the two proposed landfall locations for SouthCoast Wind’s power lines. COURTESY SOUTHCOAST WIND

SouthCoast Wind officially continues to view Falmouth as a potential connection point to the electric grid despite a recent vote in a Rhode Island town that could accommodate the entirety of its project output, according to company representatives.

SouthCoast Wind plans to construct a 2,400-megawatt wind farm spanning 127,000 acres of federal waters south of Martha’s Vineyard. It wants to bring half the electricity—enough to power 800,000 homes—ashore in Falmouth Heights and the other half at Brayton Point in Somerset.

To connect to the grid through Somerset, the cables must first run through the Town of Portsmouth, Rhode Island. The Portsmouth Town Council approved a host community agreement in a 5-1 vote—allowing cable passage under the town—during a meeting on January 16. In exchange, the town would receive $125,000 annually for the first 10 years of the project along with stabilized tax payments, according to the town council’s meeting minutes.

That agreement gives SouthCoast Wind an option “if needed” to bring all 2,400 megawatts of power through Portsmouth. But its project plans in both Somerset and Falmouth remain on hold for the time being. SouthCoast Wind representatives said the company is still working with regional electric grid operator ISO New England to examine available grid capacity for its project.

“Both Falmouth and Brayton Point remain options for the second 1,200 MW connection,” Rebecca Ullman, director of external affairs for SouthCoast Wind, wrote in a statement on February 28.

Anyone who wishes to watch the Portsmouth Town Council’s meeting concerning the host community agreement and hear residents’ comments can do so on the town council’s YouTube channel.  The majority of public commenters opposed the agreement. The meeting spans almost four hours.