This is about offshore wind in Massachusetts .

But let’s start farther from home. At the beginning of this year, Europe had 15,780 megawatts of offshore wind generated by 4,149 wind turbines in 92 separate offshore wind farms in 11 countries.

Predictions are for continued steady growth in Europe over the coming decade. Offshore wind installations are also increasing in China and in other parts of Asia.

The U.S. on the other hand has a grand total of six offshore wind turbines. Five are just off the coast of Block Island and a single small turbine demonstration project off the coast of Maine. There are no offshore wind turbines off the U.S. West Coast.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the federal regulatory agency that oversees the development of offshore wind, estimates that enough energy to power 1.4 million homes could be produced by wind turbines in the Atlantic Ocean across 742,000 acres well south of Martha’s Vineyard. The area is close to major cities, hungry for energy.

So what’s the future of offshore wind development in the Northeast U.S.?

Massachusetts is the national front runner for offshore wind, which is about to take off on the southern New England coast and the mid-Atlantic seaboard. This means an entirely new industry, with thousands of jobs and clean, renewable power. Recent studies forecast 40,000 jobs in the Northeast by 2030 associated with offshore wind.

If you’re surprised by all this, you’re not alone. A lot of myths swirl around offshore wind. That’s largely because many people equate offshore wind with the Cape Wind project, which triggered the Save Our Sound signs that were ubiquitous on the Cape and Martha’s Vineyard for several years.

Cape Wind proposed building 170 turbines in Nantucket Sound 17 years ago. It did not go well. Although the site was ideal because of its shallow water, it was also problematic in serious ways. The site is a mere five miles from Cape Cod and nine miles from the Vineyard. The project ultimately stalled under the weight of 20 lawsuits (most of which it won) and other challenges.

Fast forward to the present. In 2016, Massachusetts passed legislation requiring the state’s electric utilities to buy 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind. The legislature has since authorized another 1,600 megawatts.

Pursuant to the 2016 legislation, the state recently approved Vineyard Wind’s proposal to build 800 megawatts of offshore wind, the first half of the mandated 1,600 megawatts and the country’s first major offshore wind farm. Vineyard Wind is a partnership of Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Avangrid Renewables, which has in turn partnered with our own community renewable energy developer Vineyard Power Cooperative. The project will be split into two 400-megawatt phases, with the first phase scheduled for completion by January 2022, and the second phase by January 2023. The project will provide clean electricity to more than 400,000 homes, reducing the state’s carbon emissions by more than 1.6 million tons per year, the equivalent of removing approximately 325,000 cars from state roads.

That is not to say that there are no concerns. The fishing community on the Vineyard and the south coast of Massachusetts has expressed concerns about construction noise, silting during construction and cable installation and about any effect the electromagnetic field in the cables could have. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the federal regulatory agency, has been soliciting public comment and will release a draft of the project’s environmental impact statement this fall for further public comment. The bureau can place conditions on the project to protect the environment, including fishing interest.

On the commonwealth’s permitting side, the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act office has recently received a supplemental draft environmental impact report from Vineyard Wind, which has a public comment period open until Oct. 5. The draft report is available for public review at the Edgartown Public Library or at Public comments can be submitted to Purvi Patel at

Other well-heeled and experienced companies are poised to bid on the additional megawatts authorized by Massachusetts law.

Here are some of the myths that may be responsible for your surprise.

Offshore wind is an eyesore on the pristine landscape. Not so. The closest Vineyard Wind turbines will be 14 miles from land, barely visible on a clear day.

Offshore wind off the Massachusetts coast has too much opposition. No longer. Audra Parker, chief executive officer of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound and Cape Wind’s chief nemesis, has declared the current offshore wind sites “far superior” to Cape Wind’s location. The six towns on the Vineyard, as well as Nantucket and the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, submitted letters of support for Vineyard Wind in the state approval process

The wind doesn’t blow all the time. True enough. The continued development and commercialization of battery storage technology is necessary in order for the potential of offshore wind to reach its full potential. But the northeast coast of the U.S. has been described as “the Saudi Arabia of offshore wind.”

Offshore wind is too expensive. Not so. And that’s the big surprise.

In 2010, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities approved a price of 18.7 cents per kilowatt hour for Cape Wind’s output. (Full disclosure: I was chairman of the department at that time.) The contract called for the price to rise 3.5 per cent per year over 15 years. The price of Cape Wind power could have increased to 23.5 cents per kilowatt hour if the project failed to qualify for federal tax credits. The DPU estimated Cape Wind would increase the bills of National Grid residential customers by roughly 1.3 to 1.7 per cent and the bills of commercial and industrial customers by 1.7 to 2.2 per cent.

By contrast, the price for Vineyard Wind’s first phase starts at 7.4 cents per kilowatt hour and at 6.5 cents per kilowatt hour for phase two. The prices escalate at 2.5 per cent a year over the 20-year contract, with an average price of 8.9 cents per kilowatt hour for the 20 years. The state Department of Energy Resources has estimated that Vineyard Wind will save ratepayers over $1.4 billion over the 20-year anticipated life of the project, reducing customers’ electricity bills by 0.1 per cent to 1.5 per cent. And Vineyard Wind has agreed to spend $16 million dollars for various local projects, such as initiatives for workforce development and for the development of battery storage.

Whaling used to drive the economy of the islands and the South Coast of Massachusetts. Very soon it will be offshore wind.

Ann Berwick is a seasonal resident of Chilmark and board member for Vineyard Power.