Concord, Massachusetts [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] Cape Wind has proven itself as a hot topic once again because of requests to extend the comment period on the Environmental Impact Statement, released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), New England District. The USACE is extending the public comment period by 45 days, until February 24, 2005. This could be the last major hurdle before final permitting is granted for construction of the wind farm. The proposed 420 MW offshore wind farm would be the first such offshore project in the U.S.The extension, made by the Corps’ New England District Commander and District Engineer Col. Thomas Koning, was in response to requests to provide more time to review the document. Extension requests came from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, the Cape Cod Commission, and Rep. William Delahunt, as well as others. The 105-day comment period will now end on Feb. 24, 2005. The Corps released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the proposed wind energy project on Nov. 9 The Draft EIS was prepared by the Corps, in cooperation with 16 federal, state and local resource agencies, in response to a permit application from Cape Wind Associates, LLC for the installation and operation of 130 offshore wind turbine generators in Nantucket Sound, Mass. The document also serves as the Environmental Impact Report for the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act and for the review by the Cape Cod Commission. The purpose of the Draft EIS is to assess the environmental impacts associated with the proposed construction of an offshore wind-powered generating facility by Cape Wind Associates in Nantucket Sound. The Draft EIS provides detailed information on the potential impacts and benefits of the applicant’s proposed wind energy project in Nantucket Sound and potential impacts and benefits at the alternative sites. Cape Wind applied to the Corps for a permit to construct an offshore wind energy facility in November 2001. The purpose is to generate up to 454 MW of clean, renewable wind-generated energy that will be transmitted to the New England regional power grid, including Cape Cod and the Islands. The purpose of the extension is to allow the local, state and federal permit processes to be synchronized as much as possible. The Corps’ EIS, in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, is one of many processes that must be implemented prior to a final permit decision by the Corps. These processes and decisions include those to be made by the Massachusetts Energy Facility Siting Board, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, and the Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management Office. The Corps encourages input and participation in the process at the local, state and federal level. The Corps and the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) Office will hold four public hearings in December to gather input for the federal and state processes. Public hearings are scheduled: on Monday, Dec. 6 at 6 p.m. (registration to begin at 5 p.m.) at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School on Edgartown Road, in Oak Bluffs, Mass.; on Tuesday, Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. (registration to begin at 6 p.m.) at the Mattacheese Middle School at 400 Higgins-Crowell Road in West Yarmouth, Mass.; on Wednesday, Dec. 8 at 6 p.m. (registration to begin at 5 p.m.) at the Nantucket Community School at 10 Surfside Road in the Mary P. Walker Auditorium in Nantucket, Mass.; and on Thursday, Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. (registration to begin at 6 p.m.) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Room 10-250 at 77 Massachusetts Ave. in Cambridge, Mass. Public comments on the Draft EIS can be sent electronically to email@example.com or mailed to Cape Wind Energy Project EIS Manager Karen K. Adams, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Regulatory Division, 696 Virginia Road, Concord, MA 01742, Reference file # NAE-2004-338-1. A compact disc (CD) copy of the Draft EIS and a Project Summary Brochure can be requested from the above address, by emailing a request to firstname.lastname@example.org , or by calling 978-318-8335. Area libraries have copies of the draft for review, and electronic versions of the Draft EIS are available at the link below.