The U.S. wind industry has been a world leader, installing an impressive 5,244 megawatts in 2007. The U.S. offshore wind industry is another story, with no offshore wind farms yet developed. The tides may be changing however 4.7 miles off the coast of Cape Cod in Nantucket Bay.
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) helped moved this proposed wind farm forward by approving the undersea cable that would transmit the generated power from 130 turbines to land.
In a letter notifying Cape Wind of their decision, a DEP official wrote, “the Department determines that the proposed project serves a proper public interest which provides greater public benefit than detriment to the public’s rights in said tidelands”.
Developers of the $1 billion project are still waiting on a composite state and local permit, as well as federal approvals by the U.S. Coast Guard, Department of the Interior and the Federal Aviation Administration, said Mark Rogers, a spokesman for Cape Wind Associates LLC.
The project would power 75% of the electricity that Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island use under average wind levels. This would displace electricity from the controversial Cape Power Plant, which runs off of oil and natural gas.
The proposed wind farm has been the source of great controversy. One of the greatest concerns is that the 247 foot turbines may be visible from upscale beach homes and could hurt the tourism industry.
Cape Winds expects the permitting process to be complete by March, 2009. If developed, Cape Wind would be the first offshore wind farm in the U.S. As of 2007, there were 1165 megawatts of offshore wind generating capacity globally. Denmark and the U.K. have been the global leaders of this industry, followed by Sweden and the Netherlands.
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Photo Credit (lower photo): Cape Cod Times