After years of delay, the Cape Wind offshore wind project got the green light to proceed with the $1 billion development off the coast of Massachusetts, putting the project on the path to become the first wind power installation on the US Outer Continental Shelf.
US Interior secretary Ken Salazar made the announcement late April, almost a decade after the Nantucket Sound project was proposed. The wind farm drew opposition from some environmentalists, Cape Cod residents and Native Americans who said the installation would destroy sightlines and pose a threat to wildlife in the area.
Proponents said the development would bring jobs to the region, generate enough electricity to power 200,000 homes and offset carbon emissions from traditional power plants by 700,000 tons annually.
Final approval hinged on a number of modifications that included scaling the project down from 170, 3.6MW turbines to 130 and reconfiguring the array to minimize visibility from shore, a little more than five miles away.
‘With this decision we are beginning a new direction in our nation's energy future, ushering in America's first offshore wind energy facility and opening a new chapter in the history of this region,' Salazar said.
The secretary said more marine archaeological surveys and other protective measures will be required before construction begins. The decision could speed the process for other offshore wind projects in the US, said Cape Wind president Jim Gordon.
‘Going first is never easy and Cape Wind is proud of the role we played in raising awareness for what will become a major component of our energy future and in helping the US develop a regulatory framework for this new exciting industry,' Gordon said in a release following the announcement.
National Ocean Industries Association president Randall Luthi called the Cape Wind decision ‘welcome news' and ‘an encouraging example to all such projects currently under consideration as well as those yet to come'.
Construction could begin before the end of 2010, Gordon said.