Cape Wind

The Cape Wind Project is a $900 million proposed offshore wind farm on Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound off Cape Cod in Massachusetts (coord|41.542|N|70.321|W) proposed by a private developer, Cape Wind Associates. If the project moves forward on schedule, it will become one of the first offshore wind energy projects in the United States.

The footprint for the proposed project covers 24 square miles, 13.8 miles from the island town of Nantucket. The project envisions 130 horizontal-axis wind turbines, each having a hub height of 440 feet — higher than the Statue of Liberty, which stands at 305 feet. The blade diameter is 364 feet. [ [ Cape Wind :: America's First Offshore Wind Farm on Nantucket Sound ] ] The turbines would be sited between 4-11 miles offshore depending on the shoreline. At peak generation, the turbines will generate 420 megawatts of renewable electricity. This is enough to meet the needs of 420,000 homes. The project is expected to produce an average of 170 megawatts of electricity at any given time, about 75% of the average electricity demand for Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket island combined. [ [ PowerPoint Presentation ] ] It could offset close to a million tons of carbon dioxide every year and should produce enough electricity to offset the consumption of 113 million gallons of oil annually. []

Currently 45% of the Cape region's electricity comes from the nearby Canal Power Plant in Sandwich [] , which burns bunker oil and natural gas. [] [] The Cape Wind proposal is relatively unique in that it would directly offset petroleum usage unlike most of the country where electrical power generation from oil is rare and coal power is more common.

Additionally, this project would decrease the amount of oil shipped to the Cape Cod power plant; fuel for this plant has been part of two major oil spills. The first was on December 15, 1976 when the tanker "Argo Merchant" ran aground southeast of Nantucket Island, Massachusetts spilling 7.7 million U.S. gallons (29,000 m³) of oil. [] The second occurred in April 2003, when a Bouchard Company barge carrying oil for the Mirant Canal Generating Plant ran aground spilling 98,000 gallons of oil, which killed 450 birds and shutdown 100,000 acres (400 km²) of shell fishing beds. [] , []

Current status

On June 20, 2008 the Barnstable Superior Court dismissed four of five counts that had been filed by opposition groups and by the Town of Barnstable. The fifth count was not considered ripe for a ruling since the matter was still pending before a state agency. Cape Wind received final environmental approval from the Commonwealth of Massachusettes on March 30, 2007. [] The US Minerals Management Service gave federal approval for the project on January 14, 2008 [] .

Cape Wind originally applied for a permit under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 with the US Army Corps of Engineers in 2001. The Army Corps eventually presented a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). In a public comment period, many Federal agencies, local governments, and community groups found the draft EIS to have deficiencies. Due to passage of the 2005 Energy Bill, the regulatory authority for off-shore energy projects has been transferred from the Army Corps to the Minerals Management Service (MMS) within the Department of the Interior. Whereas Cape Wind had expected to obtain approval quickly from the Army Corps, this transfer of authority to the MMS has delayed the project. The MMS issued a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) in the spring of 2007 followed by a 60 day comment period and public hearings. The Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) was completed in late 2007 and a final decision rendered in early 2008.
The DEIS was released by MMS on January 14th 2008. [ [ Off Shore Minerals Managment] ]

2006 election

Cape Wind was an issue in the 2006 election for Governor of Massachusetts. The winner, Democrat Deval Patrick, supported the project; his Republican opponent, former Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey, opposed it. [] []

Movies & TV

In 2003 a documentary film entitled "Wind Over Water" about the controversy over the Cape Wind Project was released. The film by journalist [ Ole Tangen Jr.] chronicled the debate as it unfolded on the Cape. An independent production, the filmmaker interviewed subjects from both sides of the debate including Jim Gordon of Cape Wind and Isaac Rosen, then director of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. Focusing also on wind power in general, "Wind Over Water" features aerial footage of the offshore wind farm at Horns Rev in Denmark and footage from various wind farms in the U.S. On December 6, 2003 the film made its world and Cape Cod premiere at the Lillie Auditorium in Woods Hole.

Satirical news correspondent Jason Jones of the The Daily Show has also covered the Cape Wind project. []


Wendy Williams and Robert Whitcomb have recently written a book about the project's history called "Cape Wind: Money, Celebrity, Class, Politics and the Battle for Our Energy Future on Nantucket Sound". [cite book
last = Whitcomb
first = Robert
coauthors = Wendy M. Williams, Robert F. Whitcomb
title = Cape Wind, Money, Celebrity, Class, Politics, and the Battle for Our Energy Future on Nantucket Sound
publisher = Public Affairs
date = 2007
pages = 326
month = 05
isbn = 9781586483975
] The authors argue that the fight over Cape Wind represents the broader problem here in the U.S. of a powerful, privileged minority imposing their will on the majority.


Supporters of the project, led by the non-profit grassroots organization Clean Power Now [] , cite wind's ability to displace oil and gas consumption with clean, locally produced energy and claim the project is the best option for much needed new generating capacity in the region. It would supply 75% of the average electrical needs of Cape Cod and the Islands. The Massachusetts Audubon Society conditionally endorsed the project in March 2006 as safe for birds, but asked for further studies. []

On March 29, 2007, Secretary Ian Bowles, Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Economic Affairs, determined that the Cape Wind Final Environmental Impact Report submitted on the project adequately and properly complies with the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act and with its implementing regulations.

Criticism has come from the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound who state that Nantucket Sound is known worldwide for its wildlife and natural beauty. [] In addition, they state that the proposed wind farm would be located near shipping lanes. The Cape Cod Commission has also sought to block the plan. The Massachusetts Fishermen's Partnership (a combination of several fishing organizations) has also spoken out against the project. Local fishermen are also nearly unanimously against the project, citing the fact that for many of them, up to 60% of their annual income comes from catch caught on Horseshoe Shoals, which they claim would disappear and would have to be replaced by steaming to fishing grounds further out to sea if the project is completed. [] Other opponents include some prominent individuals who normally support sustainable energy. Proponents suggest that some of this opposition is motivated in part by ownership of real-estate on Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard or the mainland and that it raises issues of environmental justice. Robert Kennedy, Jr., whose family's Kennedy Compound is within sight of the proposed wind farm, wrote an essay stating his support for wind power in general, but opposing this project. It was published in the "New York Times" op-ed page on December 16, 2005. [] This doesn't represent the view of most Massachusetts citizens in certain surveys: 81% of adults supported the project, 61% of Cape Cod residents supported it, and only 14% of adults oppose it. []

A 2007 public opinion survey found that more than four out of five Massachusetts residents (84 percent) -- including 58 percent of those who live on the Cape and on the Islands -- explicitly support "the proposed Cape Wind offshore wind farm that would involve wind turbines being placed in Nantucket Sound about five and a half miles from the Town of Hyannis." A June 2006 survey posed the same question and found 81 percent support statewide and 61 percent in Cape Cod/the Islands.

A recent book by Robert Whitcomb, who is Vice President and Editorial Page Editor of the Providence Journal Newspaper, and Wendy Williams argues that the fight over Cape Wind involves a powerful, privileged minority imposing their will on the majority. [ The Saga Behind Cape Wind; Growing Opportunities in the Renewable Energy Sector] ]

Public opinion survey results

A 2007 Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) survey of 600 state residents found that nine out of 10 Massachusetts residents (93 percent) agree that the state should be "a national leader in using cleaner and renewable energy on a large scale by moving ahead with offshore wind power" and other clean energy initiatives. This statement is supported by 78 percent of those who live on the Cape and on the Islands. [ Survey: Leadership on Cape Wind, Other Clean Energy Solutions to Global Warming Seen as Path to New 'Massachusetts Miracle'] ]

The 2007 ORC survey also found that five out of six Massachusetts residents (84 percent) -- including 58 percent of those who live on the Cape and on the Islands -- explicitly support "the proposed Cape Wind offshore wind farm that would involve wind turbines being placed in Nantucket Sound about five and a half miles from the Town of Hyannis." (A June 2006 survey posed the same question and found 81 percent support statewide and 61 percent in Cape Cod/the Islands.)

In 2007, more than three out of four Massachusetts residents surveyed (78 percent) -- and 61 percent of those living on the Cape and on the Islands -- support wind as the best energy resource to provide electricity to Cape Cod and the Islands. Statewide, the support for other alternatives was as follows: nuclear (10 percent); coal (4 percent); and other (5 percent).

Clean renewable energy is widely supported over nuclear power in Massachusetts, including on the Cape and on the Islands. Massachusetts residents would prefer to see solar power (91 percent), more energy conservation (90 percent), and wind power (89 percent) used first before resorting to more nuclear power. On the Cape and on the Islands, the views were very similar, with strong support for wind power (75 percent); conservation (81 percent); and solar (84 percent).

2007 survey results were based on telephone interviews conducted among a sample of 600 householders aged 18 and over. Interviewing was completed by Opinion Research Corporation, for the Newton-based Civil Society Institute. [] ] , during July and August 2007.

Other Cape Cod wind projects

According to a report in the "Boston Globe", May 24, 2006, Jay M. Cashman, owner of a large construction company that built part of the Big Dig, proposes to build a $750 million wind farm in Buzzards Bay, about 20 miles west of the proposed Cape Wind site. The Cashman farm would be closer (2 mi) to shore and would consist of 120 turbines, each 450 feet tall. The projected generation capacity is 300 MW. According to the "Globe", some opponents of the Cape Wind project have expressed interest in the Cashman plan. []

ee also

*Wind Power
*Energy Policy Act of 2005
* Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound


External links

* [ Cape Wind Project Page]
* [ Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound]
* [ Clean Power Now] - a pro-project advocacy group
* [ Draft Environmental Impact Statement] - Produced by the US Army Corps of Engineers
* [] anti-project advocacy group
* [ MIT] MIT Research on Stakeholder Participation in the Cape Wind Project
* [ Cape Wind and Mineral Management Services on Nantucket] - Produced by Plum TV
* [ Cape Wind poll]
* [ Opinion on wind turbines shifting]

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