Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rules in favor of Cape Wind again

SJC OK's Cape Wind's Yarmouth transmission line plan
Rules Siting board had used
"an eminently reasonable and practical approach"

The route of the transmission linesSeveral events in the past week have swung the political pendulum clearly over to the pro-wind farm side. First the national Audubon Society's overwhelming endorsement immediately followed by Great Braiain annoucing approval of two giant offshore wind farm, one near London and it's several airports, and now this decision by the SJC.

Today the state's highest court upheld an earlier state siting board's decision permitting construction of transmission lines to bring electricity from the Cape Wind project to shore in Yarmouth from the site of the proposed 130 turbine wind farm on Horseshoe Shoals in Nantucket Sound.

The SJC affirmed a decision made in May last year by the state Energy Facilities Siting Board that was challenged by the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound.  The Alliance had lost a previous appeal in March '05, see story here.

The high court essentially ruled that the board had adopted "an eminently reasonable and practical approach to the uncommon jurisdictional issues presented by the petition" seeking to build a pair of 18-mile-long transmission lines.

barbarahill100lOn hearing the decion, Barbara Hill on right, Executive Director of Clean Power Now, said "This case was another attempt at derailing the Cape Wind project by subjecting the developer and the court to a frivolous law suit.

The Interior Department study by the Minerals Management Service of Cape Wind's proposal is expected by March '07, and if that report makes the same recommendations as the previous US Army Corps of Engineers study, the project would become America's first offshore wind farm. Less parochial tourist  experts have predicted this would be a huge boon to the Cape's popularity as a destination not unlike Palm Springs CA.

Probably due to the fact that Cape Wind represents a totally new chapter in renewable energy, the SJC found in today's decision that the state siting board had acted within its discretion in deviating from an existing standard to determine whether such transmission projects are needed.

The petition to build two 115-kilovolt lines to transmit electricity from the proposed location was filed by Cape Wind Associates and NStar Electric.  The lines would run under the sea floor and pass beneath state waters before reaching shore at Yarmouth and continuing underground to an NStar switching station ashore.

Statements from pro and con

Cape Wind President Jim Gordon said, “the state’s highest court has now confirmed the validity of the original agency decision, which said emphatically that Cape Wind’s power is needed, that Cape Wind will reduce air pollution and that the project is a needed part of our state’s energy mix.”  He continued, “This decision moves Massachusetts closer to becoming a global leader in offshore wind power.”

Jim Powers of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound emailed the following, "The SJC decision does not confer legitimacy for constructing 130 turbines adjacent to a state ocean sanctuary... The Cape Wind project is far from a done deal, and this decision represents but one of over 20 local, state and federal approvals and permits that the developer must get before this project could advance." 

Barbara Hill, Executive Director of Clean Power Now, said of the decision, "This case was another attempt at derailing the Cape Wind project by subjecting the developer and the court to a frivolous law suit. We support the review process underway and are confident that at the end of the day we will be realizing the significant air quality, economic and environmental benefits of the project in the not too distant future."

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