Using FAST-41 to Streamline Federal Permitting Process

Our energy attorneys achieved a milestone for the Bay State Wind Project, making it the first offshore wind project designated as a covered project under Title 41 of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act. Participation will provide greater efficiencies and time savings in the federal permitting process, and help the Project meet its targeted in-service date.
Using FAST-41 to Streamline Federal Permitting Process

When Bay State Wind LLC needed to help ensure the Bay State Wind Project met its construction deadlines, it called on the federal regulatory and energy attorneys of Holland & Knight. Our Public Policy & Regulation Group successfully represented the joint venture in its application to the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) requesting a streamlined environmental permitting process.

Bay State Wind is proposing to develop the Project in federal waters located about 25 miles south of Martha's Vineyard, Mass. The area has the potential to support the development of more than 2,000 megawatts (MW) of generation, which is enough to power one million homes. Bay State Wind is a 50/50 joint venture between Orsted North America Inc., an affiliate of Ørsted A/S (the world's largest developer of offshore wind projects), and Eversource Investment LLC.

Our Wind Energy Team worked collaboratively with Bay State Wind to develop a holistic approach to the application. To optimize the chances for success, our attorneys analyzed all of the components of the massive development against the best practices for qualifying under Title 41 of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST-41). We helped draft a comprehensive application that detailed how the Project met all of the requirements under Fast-41, as well as the necessity to streamline the permitting process. 

In March 2018, the DOI informed our energy and public policy attorneys that the Bay State Wind Project had formally been designated as a "covered project" under FAST-41. Inclusion as a FAST-41 project will not only encourage greater efficiencies and time savings in navigating the federal permitting process, but also will provide greater confidence that the Project can be constructed in a timely manner.

The FAST-41 process is designed to enhance the coordination, transparency, predictability and oversight of the federal reviews and permitting that are required for large infrastructure projects prior to construction. Bay State Wind is the first offshore wind project to be covered by FAST-41.

There are several advantages for sponsors of major infrastructure projects to participate in the FAST-41 program:

  • The program is based on consultations that occur earlier on in the process, thereby allowing for enhanced coordination among permitting agencies to support streamlined permit reviews.
  • Once a comprehensive permitting schedule and completion target milestones are established, the schedule is posted to the public Permitting Dashboard, promoting greater transparency and accountability.
  • A number of mechanisms have been instituted to support predictability and adherence to the permitting schedule. Deviations from the established schedule trigger review by the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council, and agency performance is tracked by Congress.
  • Enhanced legal protections are given to covered projects, limiting the risk of future litigation delays.
  • The FAST-41 process encourages state participation, fostering greater coordination and cooperation across multiple jurisdictions.

Helping clients successfully navigate and streamline the federal permitting process requires more than just legal knowledge. It requires a solid understanding of the industries and entities involved, as well as the ability to assemble the right team of lawyers. We have the depth of knowledge required to advise clients focused on investing, developing, operating, expanding or otherwise protecting their interests in the wind, alternative and renewable energy industries. Holland & Knight is well-versed in achieving client goals through the FAST-41 process, as well as other federal and state permitting programs.