Two offshore wind farms planned for waters south of Vineyard cleared key hurdles last week when the Martha’s Vineyard Commission voted to approve a helicopter hangar for Vineyard Wind 1, and separately, an undersea cable connector for New England Wind 1.

Both projects are being developed by conglomerates that have secured federal lease blocks some 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard, as the race to develop offshore wind power heats up in Massachusetts.

Long a front runner in that race, Vineyard Wind 1 is now poised to develop a maintenance and operations facility on the Vineyard Haven harbor for its $2 billion 800-megawatt utility-scale wind farm.

Approval for the helicopter hangar is believed to be a final step in a gauntlet of reviews by the MVC. A multi-million-dollar reconstruction project at the Tisbury Marine Terminal owned by Ralph Packer was approved by the commission in October 2021, and a new commercial building that will house maintenance supplies on a portion of the former Hinckley’s lumberyard on Beach Road won MVC approval two weeks ago.

Approval of the helicopter hangar on Sept. 1 came with conditions.

The project will demolish a roughly 8,500-square-foot hangar located between the private aircraft park at the Martha’s Vineyard Airport and the airport’s firefighting hangar. The old hangar dates to 1973. In 2021 the Martha’s Vineyard Airport commission granted approval to Vineyard Wind to lease the space, known as the Duchess hangar. Vineyard Wind plans to replace the hangar with a roughly 9,000-square-foot hangar with space for a helicopter, staff area, bathrooms and storage space. The hangar is meant to serve the 30-year operational lifespan of the wind farm.

But the commission has asked the wind farm company to keep the dismantled hangar for 60 days and advertise it for reuse. It additionally required the company to make a payment to the Dukes County Housing Authority to mitigate the housing impact of jobs created by the helicopter operation.

Vineyard Wind originally offered $7,648 as a one-time payment to the housing authority. That offer was voted down by the MVC, 5-9, in favor of doubling the amount to $15,296.

“It’s still pathetic, but I’m not comfortable imposing more,” said Doug Sederholm, who chairs the commission’s land use planning committee.

The larger payment passed 9-2, with Ben Robinson and Trip Barnes in the minority and Ernest Thomas abstaining.

Vineyard Wind also must adopt green energy measures for the new hangar and submit detailed site plans, including landscaping and lighting, before obtaining a certificate of occupancy.

And while local governments have no authority over aircraft operations, which the Federal Aviation Administration controls, the company must give the MVC a memo of understanding with the airport and the FAA regarding noise mitigation.

“These helicopters are going to be running multiple times a day year round,” Mr. Sederholm said.

The trip by air will take about 15 minutes, each way, ferrying workers between the airport and a helideck on the wind farm’s planned electrical service platform, according to a Vineyard Wind presentation when the MVC opened a public hearing on July 21.

That presentation estimated two to four round-trip helicopter flights daily. At the meeting last week, Mr. Sederholm noted that the MVC has no say over the number of trips.

“It’s going to take two and a half hours to get there by boat. What do you think they’re going to use to get their people there?” he said.

Most commissioners agreed that the noise of the flights is an unavoidable detriment of the project, but that the prospective flow of renewable energy was a benefit outweighing both the additional air traffic and the housing impact.

Mr. Sederholm abstained from the final vote, which was otherwise unanimous.

In a separate vote, New England Wind 1’s undersea connector project also prevailed over environmental concerns, with the commission imposing conditions that include a benthic habitat monitoring program to document disturbances in seafloor life after the cable corridor has been constructed. New England Wind is a partnership between Park City Wind and Commonwealth Wind. Park City is a subsidiary of Avangrid Renewables, which also has a 50 per cent ownership in Vineyard Wind, according to publicly available documents.

The New England Wind proposal is to place two offshore export cables connecting the proposed wind farm to the ISO New England grid at an existing substation in Barnstable. Vineyard Wind won approval for a similar project in 2019; the New England Wind cable will include about 12.4 linear miles in Edgartown waters in approximately the same the corridor used for the Vineyard Wind cable, running past Chappaquiddick. Each cable will be about 10 inches in diameter and lie in an approximately three-foot-wide trench

An updated fisheries communication plan and a plan for decommissioning the cables also must be provided to the MVC, along with an agreement to protect right whales and any reports that the company provides to the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

The cable corridor does not come ashore on the Vineyard, commission chairman Joan Malkin noted.

“It simply passes through our waters . . . under the ground,” she said.

Mr. Barnes raised the specter of calamity should something go wrong with the cables.

“If it goes bad, who pays?” he asked.

But he failed to gain a majority for his motion to have the advice of counsel on protecting the Island in case of trouble with the undersea cables.

The final vote in favor of the proposal was unanimous except for Mr. Barnes, who abstained.

Voting to approve the helicopter hangar were: Christina Brown, Jeff Agnoli, Ben Robinson, Trip Barnes, Ernie Thomas, Jay Grossman, Jim Vercruysse, Brian Smith, Greg Martino, Michael Kim, Joan Malkin, Fred Hancock and Kathy Newman.

Voting to approve the undersea cable were: Christina Brown, Jeff Agnoli, Ben Robinson, Ernie Thomas, Jay Grossman, Jim Vercruysse, Brian Smith, Greg Martino, Doug Sederholm, Joan Malkin, Fred Hancock and Kathy Newman.