Thursday, 16 August 2012

Cape Cod wind farm tiptoes ahead
10 Aug 2012

Philip Scudder said his ferry company here was once a vocal opponent of the alternative-energy proposal that blew into Cape Cod nearly a decade ago. The US's first offshore wind farm? In the middle of pristine Nantucket Sound? He wondered how his boats carrying vacationers bound for Martha's Vineyard would navigate around the turbines.

But now, Mr. Scudder, a 13th generation Cape Codder and part of the family that owns Hy-Line Cruises, supports Cape Wind, the proposal to place 130 wind turbines, with the highest blade tip reaching 440 feet above water, some five miles offshore. He says it would bring not only clean energy but economic opportunity: Hy-Line is now shopping for vessels to eventually give "eco-tours", educational boat rides out to see the turbines up close.

Mr. Scudder illustrates the conflicting views on the long-debated project in an area known as the jewel of Massachusetts and a vacation land for the affluent. After a decade, Cape Wind developer Energy Management Inc, is beginning geological survey work in the sound, a precursor to its goal of starting construction next year.

But whether the wind farm is built remains to be seen. Cape Wind has yet to receive all the approvals it needs to start construction. Opposition is firm and has included wealthy Cape Cod homeowners from the late Sen. Edward Kennedy to Republican donor and energy businessman William Koch.

The Obama administration is pushing for more renewable-energy projects, both on and offshore. This week, the Interior Department said it was assessing a proposal by the North American arm of Statoil STO +0.20% ASA, a Norwegian energy company, for a wind farm off the coast of Maine.

The Interior Department approved Cape Wind in 2010. The project calls for the off-white wind turbines in a 25 square-mile area in a shallow part of the sound, a triangular body of water surrounded by Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. The closest vantage point would be nearly five miles away in Mashpee, next to Barnstable.

The turbines are "majestic and beautiful", and on a clear day would appear "like a half-inch sailing mast on the horizon", said Jim Gordon, the president of Energy Management, Cape Wind's developer.

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