DOE Backs Cape Wind Offshore Proposal

Cape Wind, the 420 MW offshore wind development proposed for waters beyond the Massachusetts shores, has relished few accolades from high-level government supporters in the state.

Governor Mitt Romney, State Attorney General Tom Reilly, and Massachusetts native U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy have all spoken out against the project, predominantly citing concerns over the project’s potential effect on the tourist business of the Cape Cod area. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), however, has stepped forward into the generally localized issue, saying completion of the project is important to America’s national interests. David Garman, the DOE assistant secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, wrote a letter of support to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is the federal regulatory body charged with the task of giving the project a final permitting and construction approval. “As the first shallow water offshore project under review in the United States, utility-scale projects like Cape Wind are important to our national interest and a critical first step to building a domestic, globally competitive wind industry,” Garman wrote. “Success in this project could also lay the foundation for a focused national investment to develop offshore wind technology in the coming years.” The DOE appears particularly interested in letting the Cape Wind project act as an example and a starting point for further offshore wind power development in the U.S., which currently lacks any completed offshore wind projects. While offshore wind development has not proceeded as quickly as expected in Europe, the country is decades ahead of the U.S. with respect to offshore wind. Garman said the stakeholder permitting process will assist the DOE and other federal agencies by providing environmental information in support of potential future regional developments of offshore wind. “If even a small percentage of this potential is developed, it will help alleviate a variety of energy issues facing our Nation, including increasing electricity demand, congestion on regional electricity grids and concerns over air emissions from traditional power generation,” Garman said. “Developing power from our abundant offshore wind resources would help stabilize electricity prices for customers and generators, preserve and extend our Nation’s critical natural gas supplies, and provide a potential source of hydrogen in the future.”

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