Cape Wind: MA

To reduce pollution and the most severe effects of climate change, the United States must build renewable energy quickly. Harnessing wind power is essential part of that effort, and New England is fortunate to have bountiful wind resources, both on land and offshore.

It’s fitting that Massachusetts, which has abundant wind and no coal or oil of its own to burn, should be the site of be the country’s first utility-scale offshore wind farm. Cape Wind, a 130-turbine wind farm destined for federal waters in Nantucket Sound, will generate up to 454 megawatts of power — enough to meet 75 percent of the annual needs of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket.

A good year for Cape Wind, 2010 saw many of the final decisions on the path to building the landmark project. Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar provided federal approval for Cape Wind, signaling the Obama administration’s intentions to support renewable energy development in pursuit of a clean energy economy and energy independence. A few months later, Salazar signed the lease for Cape Wind, the first offshore wind lease in the nation. Then the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) approved a 15-year contract for the sale of 50 percent of Cape Wind’s power and renewable energy credits to electric utility National Grid, a key step to securing financing for the project. The DPU found the Cape Wind contract “cost-effective” and “in the public interest,” noting that the benefits of the project outweigh the costs.

Proposed in 2001 by Cape Wind Associates, Cape Wind has undergone years of rigorous environmental review by federal and state agencies. CLF, as part of a coalition of environmental and clean energy organizations, has been actively involved in Cape Wind’s nine-year review and permitting process. The coalition has ensured that the project’s environmental review is fair, rigorous and timely.

As the first project of its kind in the United States, Cape Wind serves as a model to the nation, offering a glimpse of our clean energy future. Cape Wind has strong public support and demonstrated economic and environmental benefits, and has undergone exhaustive scientific review clearing the project of significant impacts to ocean habitats and wildlife. Cape Wind will help get renewable American energy up and running, cut global warming pollution, fuel economic growth, provide jobs, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, and promote energy independence.

Contact
Susan Reid, senior attorney, CLF Massachusetts