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Cape Wind Project Gains Speed

 Posted by on February 18, 2008
Feb 182008

By Harriet Blake

The Cape Wind Energy Project released its final environmental impact report Friday. The project, to be located in Nantucket Sound off the coast of Massachusetts, aspires to be America’s first offshore wind farm.

The project’s goal is to use the power of wind to provide three-quarters of Cape Cod and nearby islands’ clean electricity – enough to power about 200,000 homes – and at the same time, create new jobs and lower electric costs.

Photo: Cape Wind Associates

This images shows the projected view of the wind farm from Craigville six miles away.

The wind farm of 130 turbines five miles off the coast of Cape Cod would provide an alternative to using fossil fuels since wind is a renewable energy source. Already in use overseas in countries such as Denmark, wind power is a proven option to traditional energy sources such as oil, gas and coal.

Earlier this week residents of Martha’s Vineyard gathered at a local theater to get an update on the project which has pitted environmentalists against environmentalists.

On one hand, the project, which would put 130 wind turbines in Nantucket Sound, would generate an alternative energy source that creates none of the greenhouse gas emissions of burning fossil fuels. On the other hand, some environmentalists are concerned about the project’s effect on wildlife, fisheries, vegetation, noise and tourism in Nantucket Sound, which is known to support some endangered marine species.

The project overcame a major hurdle in January when the U.S. Minerals Management Service released an impact statement that said the wind farm would not have much impact on wildlife, navigation and tourism. The wind project’s advocates are now in the process of reassuring area residents.

Jim Gordon, president of Cape Wind Associates, has been working on the project for more than seven years. He was one of the speakers at the Martha’s Vineyard meeting.
Noting that the United States imports about 60 percent of its oil – up from 28 percent 33 years ago, Gordon said, in a story appearing in the Feb. 14 issue of The Martha’s Vineyard Times, “It certainly is one of the greatest failures of national leadership that we find ourselves in this position.”

Overall, those attending the Monday meeting appeared receptive. One commercial fisherman asked about how the construction might affect fishing grounds. Cape Wind spokesman Mark Rodgers said that the cables would be buried and there would be no need to get rid of sediment since the turbine supports are hollow and would be pounded into the sea floor, according to the Martha’s Vineyard Times report.

Interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, one of the project’s opponents is Sen. Ted Kennedy, whose family owns property on Cape Cod.

The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, which Kennedy supports, maintains that the the project would not offer consumers lower electric bills and also would trigger economic losses to business and property values in Cape Cod. The Alliance also opposes the Cape Wind project on environmental grounds, saying the project would hurt birds, fish and offshore fising in the area.

Cape Wind Associates, however, say that other wind farms have not hurt property values or wild life.

Gordon indicated he would like Sen. Kennedy’s support. Sen. John McCain has said that he would support the project.

There will be four Minerals Management Service public hearings later this spring. An outline of the public impact process and info on how to register comment are available on the Cape Wind status page on the website of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

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