BOSTON, MA (MAY 21, 2009) – Today the Energy Facilities Siting Board cleared the path for Cape Wind, the first offshore wind project in the United States, by issuing a crucial comprehensive permit necessary for the project to move forward. The unanimous decision issued today confirms the findings that the Board made last month after hearing testimony from the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) and other supporters of the 130-turbine offshore wind project. The Board’s decision to grant a comprehensive permit means that Cape Wind now has all state and local permits that it needs. Once operational, the Cape Wind project is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 734,000 tons per year and supply up to three-quarters of the electricity used on Cape Cod and the Islands.
CLF President John Kassel lauded the decision as a move that will propel New England forward in its efforts to develop clean, renewable power.
“Offshore wind is the most significant source of renewable energy in the Commonwealth,” said Kassel. “Advancing forward-thinking, responsible projects like Cape Wind is critical to addressing the imminent threats we face from climate change.”
The project has undergone eight years of detailed and thorough environmental review and previously had secured several key state approvals, but was brought to a halt by the Cape Cod Commission’s denial of the project on procedural grounds. As a result, Cape Wind was prevented from pursuing the remaining local permits it needed, and filed an appeal to the Board seeking relief. After extensive proceedings the Board issued a composite permit to Cape Wind that, in accordance with state law, includes all state and local permits for the transmission cables that will connect the wind turbines to the New England electricity grid.
The permit includes rigorous environmental standards and protections. Importantly, the Siting Board actively solicited participation by local and state agencies to ensure that all environmental and safety concerns were taken into account. The permit will be appealable to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. In addition, federal environmental review of the project is now complete, and CLF has joined many others in calling for issuance of the federal approvals that are also required for the project to go forward.
CLF, a long-time advocate for Cape Wind, has called for building 2000 megawatts of wind power in New England over the next five years as part of its Climate Call to Action. The Cape Wind project alone could generate up to 454 megawatts.
The Conservation Law Foundation (www.clf.org) works to solve the most significant environmental challenges facing New England. CLF’s advocates use law, economics and science to create innovate strategies to conserve natural resources, protect public health and promote vital communities in our region. Founded, in 1966, CLF is a nonprofit, member-supported organization with offices in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.