Cape Wind announces purchase of East Marine in Falmouth--new headquarters for clean energy project

Fifty people to be employed at company's new base of operations


   Cape Wind President Jim Gordon announces the purchase of East Marine in Falmouth Thursday. See press conference slideshow below. All photos by Matilda Brown for CapeCodToday.com.

By Matilda Brown

Cape Wind affiliates were present at the Falmouth Chamber of Commerce this Thursday to discuss the pending purchase of East Marine in Falmouth. Cape Wind plans to purchase the property and make it into the company’s base of operations, particularly for maintaining the wind turbines. Staging of the turbines is being done in New Bedford.

Jim Gordon, President of Cape Wind, said that this purchase was a big step forward for a project that was originally proposed in 2001 and has faced numerous regulatory hurdles over the past decade. The turbines will be located in Horseshoe Shoal and, according to Gordon, if all goes well, there will be 130 turbines, although only 101 are currently under contract. Gordon said the number of turbines will not affect the number of jobs created at East Marine.

Gordon said that 50 well-paid jobs will be directly created for the maintenance facility and he said that an additional 100 indirect jobs are also estimated. Already, Gordon said, hundreds of jobs have been created over the past decade in many different fields, all to get this project going.

East Marine on Falmouth Harbor--soon to be the new Cape Cod headquarters of Cape Wind. Photo courtesy of Cape Wind.

Representative William Keating said, “It’s not just about jobs; it’s about the future”, as well as creating good paying jobs and getting away from oil.

Currently, there are over 72,000 Massachusetts residents employed in clean energy jobs.

Jay Zavala, President of the Falmouth Chamber of Commerce, said that the project will help diversify the local economy and advance responsible public policy.

“For us, it’s all about jobs.” Zavala said, adding, “Collectively, our shoulders have been put to the wheel and we celebrate this project’s success and this announcement.”

Kevin Murphy, the chairman of the Falmouth Board of Selectmen, said that the purchase is part of Falmouth’s five year plan. It helps keep the harbor a working harbor. Murphy said that it the Board of Selectmen want to keep Falmouth’s waterways a working environment, as opposed to making the harbor a zone for development. “We welcome Cape Wind’s headquarters,” Murphy said.

About the decision to purchase East Marine, Gordon said, “When we first walked Falmouth Harbor, I could feel the history there…at one point, the Cape and Islands were the energy center of the world.”

Gordon said that he hopes to bring the Cape back to the forefront of energy technologies, starting with Cape Wind. Gordon also said that the location of many academic institutes nearby the site was also key in its selection.

Keating said that the region is a prime location for becoming a leader in marine technology and education. Keating said that the project will benefit the whole Commonwealth. Keating said that oil won’t allow the Commonwealth to move forward, while Massachusetts could become a leader in clean energy.

“This is a great project for the Commonwealth, the economy, and the environment.” - Richard Sullivan, Secretary of MA EEARichard Sullivan, Secretary of Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs said, “It is time to go, it is time to keep going.” Sullivan added that the project needs to get built because “it is time to move forward.” Sullivan mirrored the sentiments of the other speakers, saying, “This is a great project for the Commonwealth, the economy, and the environment.”

Keating said another benefit of the project will be the proposed ecotours from Hy-Line Cruises which will bring money to the Hyannis area.

Gordon credited the other speakers with helping the project along and said that offshore wind energy will be a major component of the renewable energy industry, which will join the other industries that Massachusetts is known for such as software and information technologies and academia.

Admiral Richard Gurnon, President of Massachusetts Maritime Academy, said that the project will help to keep the talents of MMA students on the Cape. Gurnon noted that the wind turbine on the MMA campus has been saving MMA up to a quarter million dollars per year in electricity costs.

Former State Representative Matt Patrick, said, “I just want to say ‘I told you so’.”

Patrick said that he took an unpopular position because he knew the jobs were needed. Patrick noted that wind energy is the fastest growing form of electrical distribution in the world. That statement has been verified.

The federal tax incentives and the Massachusetts Green Communities Act encouraged this project, Patrick said.

“When we first walked Falmouth Harbor, I could feel the history there…at one point, the Cape and Islands were the energy center of the world.” - Jim Gordon, Cape Wind PresidentCurrently, no information is available to the public as to the cost of the sale, due to the disclosure agreement. Gordon said that the sale information will become public once the deal closes. Although a substantial down payment has already been made, the closing of the deal is tied to project financing, according to Gordon. He also expressed his desire for Congress to extend their wind energy tax credits this year.

As to the continued opposition from the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, Gordon said that he found it unfortunate that a small, vocal minority would persist in opposing the interests of the citizens of Massachusetts. He said that the most recent Cape Wind approval from the FAA was done with due diligence.

That was the fourth approval for the project, with two coming from a Republican administration, and two coming from a Democrat administration, something Gordon pointed to as showing bipartisan approval for the project.

Construction is slated to begin as soon as financing is settled, which Gordon said he hopes will happen next year, leading him to project a construction start date of no later than 2014.

Other than the speakers, several other notable names were present at the announcement, including Falmouth Town Manager Julian Suso, Selectman Doug Jones, Tom McDonald of East Marine, and David Scudder of Hy-Line Cruises.

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