Offshore, Project Development, Wind Power

Cape Wind Achieves Important Milestone

Cape Wind, the first proposed offshore wind farm in the U.S., gained a small victory last week through state approval of the wind farm and its current review process. With this approval however, came a binding call for further studies and relocation of a few of the farm’s wind turbines which lie in state waters.

The Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs issued a Certificate of adequacy on the Cape Wind project that found, “the Draft Environmental Impact Report submitted on this project adequately and properly complies with the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA)?” Since the project is almost entirely in Federal waters, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been the lead regulatory agency overseeing the project’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Nearby state opposition has been strong with Gov. Mitt Romney and the state’s influential U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy both staunch critics of the project — specifically its location between Cape Cod and Nantucket, two of the state’s most pristine areas. Since the project is almost entirely in Federal waters, Massachusetts has limited power over the project, but the Corps cannot issue a permit without approval from state regulators. In the twenty-six page decision, Environmental Secretary Herzfelder wrote, “I believe that an ambitious program of renewable energy development is in the interests of the citizens of Massachusetts, and that the Commonwealth has an obligation to its citizens to promote development of renewable energy. Wind power is and will continue to be an important component of the renewable energy mix.” Cape Wind Associates, developers of the 420 MW project, are viewing the Secretary’s decision as tentative victory for the wind farm. “This is an important milestone that brings the benefits of lower energy costs, better health and greater energy independence one step closer to the people of Massachusetts and the region,” Cape Wind President Jim Gordon. “We recognize that Secretary Herzfelder has requested additional information about Cape Wind and we look forward to working with state and federal agencies in the months to come as we complete the Final Environmental Impact report.” The additional information would explore further the wind farm’s potential impact on wildlife and, according to reporting from the Boston Globe, would cost around $1 million dollars and will add more time to the project’s already lengthy review process. The permitting process began in November, 2001 when Cape Wind filed an Environmental Notification Form with the Massachusetts Executive office of Environmental Affairs. If the project is approved it will be the first offshore wind farm in the U.S. and a major milestone for the growing U.S. wind power industry. GE Energy has already been selected to provide their 3.6 MW offshore machines for the project.