Developer Jim Gordon says project could start generating energy in 2011
Cape Wind Associates may start construction despite any litigation
By James Kinsella
Construction of Cape Wind, the first offshore wind farm in the United States, could start by the end of the year, with the project producing power by the end of 2011, developer Jim Gordon said Friday.
Gordon, the president and driving force of Cape Wind Associates LLC, which initially proposed a wind farm in Nantucket Sound more than seven years ago, hailed what he said was an "extremely favorable" final environmental impact statement from the U.S. Minerals Management Service on the project.
"Today marks a historic day for Massachusetts and the region," Gordon told the media who crowded into the conference room at Cape Wind Associates for a press conference early Friday afternoon.
The favorable review, Gordon said, moves the region from the end of the energy pipeline to the front "with an inexhaustible source of clean, renewable energy that we can harness for greater energy security and independence, for new green jobs, for more stable electric costs, and to contribute to the fight against global warming and climate change."
Cape Wind would consist of 130 turbines in a 25-square-mile area on Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound, a little under five miles from the southern shore of Cape Cod. Cape Wind Associates said the wind farm could generate up to 468 megawatts, meeting the equivalent of 75 percent of the power demand on the Cape and Islands.
Gordon originally thought Cape Wind, a project that he saw as so logical and compelling, might get its permits in two years.
The project will cost more than $1 billion to build.
Cape Wind has spent $40 million so far todevelop the project. Gordon estimates the project will generate between 600and 1,000 jobs.
He declined to specify the cost of building Cape Wind, but said the figure was higher than $1 billion. He said Cape Wind has spent $40 million so far to develop the project. He estimates the project will generate between 600 and 1,000 jobs.
He said he's confident the company will be able to obtain the turbines that it needs, and the company will be able to secure financing for the project, which he termed "low risk."
Most hurdles are now behind it
With the completion of the MMS's final environmental report, Cape Wind has jumped over most of its regulatory hurdles. The company now will await a record of decision from the Department of the Interior. Should Interior give Cape Wind the green light, the government will negotiate a lease with the company for its use of federal property. The planned construction site is within federal waters.
The company also has filed for a comprehensive permit from the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board. Gordon said he expects a decision on that permit, which would include remaining state and local permits, by the end of March.
A number of lawsuits are still in the works against Cape Wind, and project supporters such as Clean Power Now anticipate that project opponents will file more litigation to try to stop the the wind farm.
Gordon, however, said the company is strongly considering starting construction on Cape Wind even if lawsuits against the project remain unresolved.
A few regulatory matters still are up in the air. The Federal Aviation Administration is taking another look at the project's potential effect on radar, and the Coast Guard has yet to complete its report on Cape Wind's possible effect on navigation.
Cape state Rep. Matt Patrick congratulated Gordon on making his way through a regulatorymaze "that not even Kafka could imagine in his wildest dreams."
The Inspector General's Office at the Department of the Interior also has been looking into MMS's review process on the project, but Gordon said, "We are not concerned one iota."
Asked the rhetorical question of whether the company couldn't find another place to put the wind farm, Gordon replied, "There's always somewhere else. And if you say please put it somewhere else, you put it in the view of someone else."
Gordon and project supporters yesterday say they were heartened by Gov. Deval Patrick's and President-elect Barack Obama's embrace of renewable energy. They see Cape Wind in the forefront of a movement to restore energy independence to the United States through the use of clean, renewable energy.
Among those attending yesterday's press conference were state Rep. Matt Patrick, D-Falmouth, who at one point survived a very tight re-election over the Cape Wind issue. The district adjoins the waters where Cape Wind would be built.
Patrick congratulated Gordon on making his way through a regulatory maze "that not even Kafka could imagine in his wildest dreams."
The state representative said he anticipates Cape Wind will turn Cape Cod and eastern Massachusetts into a place to get a job related to clean energy, to get educated about clean energy, or to start a company based on clean energy.
Patrick, shaking hands with Gordon, said he was very pleased to welcome Cape Wind to his district.
Barbara Hill, executive director of Clean Power Now, a nonprofit organization that supports renewable energy and Cape Wind, called on elected officials who had yet to take a stand on the project, such as U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry, to do so now that the project had received a favorable environmental report from the MMS.
Cape Wind is "the perfect job at the perfect time. They can cut off the spigiot of oil, but Cape Cod will still be lit."
- Marty Aitkens, IBEW
Marty Aitkens, business consultant for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 103, called the work that will be generated by Cape Wind "the perfect job at the perfect time."
Aitkens said the local had put a lot of time and work into the backing the project, and told Gordon it was "just fantastic" to learn of the favorable review.
"They can cut off the spigot of oil, but Cape Cod still will be lit," Aitkens said.
Gordon said he has seen public support of the project grow since he first proposed Cape Wind.
One poll reports that 86 percent of Massachusetts residents favor the project.
"Look, everyone has a reaction to change," Gordon said. "People have a fear of the unknown. But what people fear more is the fear of the known."
And he said knowledge of the role that fossil fuels are playing in climate change and global warming is generating more support from the public for renewable energy projects such as Cape Wind. See the final MMS report here.