USA and Massachusetts
Cape Wind critics threw up an eleventh-hour roadblock this week, accusing two U.S. government agencies that approved portions of the proposed offshore wind energy project of violating federal laws.
"We put them on notice," said Lisa Linowes, executive director of the Industrial Wind Action Group, which tracks the benefits of wind energy projects.
Her group and eight others filed a 60-day notice of violations with U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
Opponents of Cape Wind blasted the developers' plan to buy 130 wind turbines from a German company, Siemens Energy Inc., saying the heavily taxpayer-subsidized project should pick a U.S. company, if it is ever approved.
"Why are we sending $500 million of our money, that is supposed to stimulate our economy, to Europe?"
Opponents of Cape Wind, the 130-turbine wind energy project slated for construction in Nantucket Sound, have filed a ballot question that would require energy companies such as NStar and National Grid to compete for the right to distribute energy from renewable projects.
The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and a handful of other groups yesterday filed a motion for summary judgment in one of five pending lawsuits aimed at preventing the construction of 130 wind turbines on roughly 25 miles of the sound.
The controversial and long-delayed Cape Wind project - which could become the first offshore wind farm in the United States - is inching forward.
The next milestone is a decision by the Interior Department about whether to issue a lease for the project (something that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar discussed during an interview with The New York Times last week).
But if Cape Wind does manage to leap over all of its hurdles, the question remains: who will make the turbines?
With less than a month to go before U.S. Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar determines the fate of Cape Wind, the legal saber rattling over the offshore wind turbine project has begun.
"We anticipate many years of costly and unproductive litigation," former interim U.S. Sen. Paul Kirk Jr. and U.S. Rep. William Delahunt (D-Quincy) wrote Salazar in a January letter.
As opponents of a massive wind energy factory in Nantucket Sound watch the impact of energy giant BP's oil blowout on the ocean and delicate ecosystems of the Louisiana coast, they are drawing parallels between the energy projects and warning that another environmental disaster is likely to happen in the waters off Cape Cod.
A benchmark in the country's efforts to expand clean energy was reached today as the nation's first proposed offshore wind farm -- proposed in Nantucket Sound -- received a favorable final environmental review from a key federal agency.
Calling his agency's report " a milestone," Minerals Management Service Director Randall Luithi said in a telephone interview this morning that Cape Wind could become "a bellweather for many offshore wind projects to come."
A federal agency on historic preservation has recommended that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar reject a proposed massive wind energy project in Nantucket Sound - an area that is sacred to the Wampanoag nations and qualifies for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
On April 2, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation issued a seven-page report of its findings and recommendation to deny permits to Cape Wind Associates to construct a wind energy plant.
Despite high-profile Washington meetings and a junket to the Cape and Martha’s Vineyard last month, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has failed to resolve a dispute about Cape Wind’s potential impact on the historical preservation of Nantucket Sound.
Instead, Salazar kicked the matter to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.
The developer of the proposed Nantucket Sound wind farm released a study yesterday that claims the project would save $4.6 billion in New England's wholesale electric costs over 25 years.
The nine-page report by Charles River Associates found that if Cape Wind were built the total cost of electricity paid by utilities in the region would be $185 million less on average each year.
Cape Wind's opponents have added another appeal to the legal tangles that the wind farm's developer needs to confront before its plans to build 130 wind turbines in Nantucket Sound can come to fruition.
Developers of the proposed Nantucket Sound wind farm reconfigured the project's footprint and agreed to search for Native American artifacts in the sea bed where the turbines would be built, according to a draft agreement drawn up in June to satisfy Native American and historical preservation officials' concerns.
That never-signed document is expected to serve as a rough template tomorrow in Washington when US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar convenes key players to broker a compromise.
After eight years of review, the future of a controversial wind farm off Cape Cod now rests in what would seem to be friendly hands - an Obama administration that's pledged to make the U.S. "the world's leading exporter of clean energy."
But it's tough to tell if Cape Wind's prospects just got better or worse.
Time is of the essence for Cape Wind if it wants to take advantage of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding, which would reduce the cost of the project by 30 percent. "Part of the stimulus act provided even greater federal incentives for things like wind power," Mr. Rodgers said, but to qualify for ARRA funding, the wind farm would have to begin construction by the end of 2010 and complete construction by the end of 2012.
The federal government's decision on the proposed Nantucket Sound wind farm is now firmly in the hands of U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
Surprising no one, negotiations between Cape Wind, Wampanoag Indian tribes on Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard and the government ground to a close today with neither side budging.
State historical preservation officer Brona Simon spoke out against the Cape Wind turbine project proposed for Nantucket Sound during a hearing in Barnstable on Monday.
She noted that the project is 24 to 25 square miles. "You can see the concern we have with the adverse effects of the proposal," she said. "The visual element will alter the setting outside the character of the historic properties."
The survey begins Friday and continues through early fall. The first step involves acoustic imaging to map the seafloor. Then, sampling will be done ensure no Native American artifacts will be disturbed and to analyze the soil, followed by deeper soil borings.
Many Berkshire towns have earned thousands of dollars for a public renewable energy project through the Massachusetts Clean Energy ChoiceSM program. The Clean Energy Choice program has $1.25 million to distribute in matching funds to towns when residents and small businesses choose to “green up” their electricity.