Nantucket Inquirer and Mirror: “Cape Wind secures new lease on life”
By Peter Sutters –
(Oct. 5, 2017) There are currently two offshore wind-energy projects planned for the waters surrounding Nantucket, one just getting underway and one that after almost two decades still cannot get off the ground.
Cape Wind, which holds the rights to 24 square miles of federally- regulated waters in Nantucket Sound, last week had its lease with the government renewed for 24 more years.
That project is more familiar to island residents as it has been in and out of the news for years as opponents filed a series of lawsuits to stop its 130 turbines from being installed within sight of Nantucket’s north shore. It has been stalled since 2015 when agreements to purchase its power were canceled because of a lack of progress on the project.
“Many people’s perception is that project is dead, but Cape Wind still has that lease and could sell it to another developer,” said Audra Parker, executive director of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, chief opponent of the wind farm proposed for 12 to 14 miles north of Nantucket.
“They have maintained their lease payments and their presence in court and they say they plan to build it. As long as Cape Wind holds that lease, Nantucket Sound is vulnerable.”
Opponents have long argued the project would be potentially fatal to migrating birds, create navigational problems for boats traveling between the Cape, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard and planes flying over the sound, and be visibly unattractive, particularly from Cape Cod.
“Basically the federal government, despite opposition from a small group that apparently don’t want the project, has looked at the record for the last many years and decided the project is still in the public interest,” Cape Wind president Jim Gordon said.
“Given the fact of what is happening with global warming, this is the right project in the right place at the right time.”
A May letter from seven state legislators disagreed.
“While we certainly support renewable energy, Cape Wind is the wrong project in the wrong location,” it said, arguing that Cape Wind has not lived up to its obligations and its lease should be rescinded.
That letter was included in a batch sent to the Office of Renewable Energyopposing the project. Other letters of opposition provided by the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound were written by Barnstable Airport officials, the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, a number of wildlife advocacy groups, the Steamship Authority and the Town of Barnstable.
Gordon was asked if his company was still planning on building the project, despite losing contracts to sell the power it would generate and not having state approval for the installation of power lines; or if Cape Wind was planning on selling the lease. “We are moving forward with the project and I have no further comment,” he said.
A separate project by Vineyard Power is being planned for 166,000 acres of ocean 14 miles southeast of Nantucket in the Atlantic Ocean.
Company officials for that project recently gave a presentation to the Nantucket Board of Selectmen and gauged their interest for having a power cable from that project run through the island on its way to the mainland, which the town could tap into.
That project is in its infancy compared to Cape Wind, with only the lease secured and a site assessment plan submitted.
It has not formally begun the permitting process that would need federal, state and local approval from possibly dozens of different boards and commissions.
The company did do a visual impact study that showed on clear days, the turbines – the number of which has not yet been determined – would be visible from Nantucket’s south shore.
This article is reprinted via Nantucket Inquirer and Mirror, which is not affiliated with the Alliance.