The United States' first offshore wind energy project has emerged from a controversial decade of planning and fighting to win a go-ahead from the federal government. Yesterday, the U.S. Interior Department approved the Cape Wind Project, a planned development of wind turbines that will stand in Nantucket Sound off Cape Cod in Massachusetts. The project was proposed by a private developer, Cape Wind Associates, which is the brainchild of Jim Gordon and a Limited Liability Company (LLC) set up as a joint business venture between Energy Management Inc. and Wind Management LLP.
Construction at the site may begin as early as this fall, reported Bloomberg (News - Alert). Federal officials said approving the plan is a milestone in developing clean-energy sources that will help lower carbon emissions and create jobs.
“After a thorough review of environmental impacts, we are confident that this offshore commercial wind project – the first in the nation – can move forward,” said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in a statement. The Interior Department is seeking to speed the process of building wind energy projects off the Atlantic Coast, Salazar said.
The Cape Wind project, which hasn't been without its critics, calls for the installation of about 130 offshore wind turbines, and is expected to cost about $1 billion. The project thus far has secured a buyer for about 50 percent of the electricity it is expected to generate. Primary opposition to the project comes from area homeowners whose ocean views would supposedly by the turbines. Local lawmakers haven't been pleased by the idea either, and they claim the project represents a threat to a sensitive ecosystem.
The well-monied and well-lawyered opposition – Ted Kennedy was a noteworthy opponent – was predictably outraged by the U.S. Interior Department's approval yesterday. “They are attempting to declare victory in a war that is far from over,” said Audra Parker of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound in an interview with the Boston Globe. A host of about 11 private lawsuits have been filed against the project.
For its part, the Interior Department is reportedly also looking to move forward with a planned wind farm development off the coast of New Jersey.Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Jennifer Russell