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Cape Wind: The Project

In December 2017, Cape Wind surrendered its lease, but we must remain vigilant to ensure long-term protection for the Sound so that it is never again threatened by industrial development. What follows in this section is a description of the now-defunct project and the risks it posed to our environment, economy, safety, historic landmarks, commercial fishing, and local tribes.

Map of Cape Wind lease

Impacts

Alternative Sites

The Alliance participated in the establishment of rules and regulations governing offshore wind energy development. When Cape Wind was first proposed in 2001, there was no leasing authority, federal planning or competitive bidding for wind sites in federal waters. In 2005, the Energy Policy Act established federal leasing and called for regulations to govern renewable energy, which were completed in 2009. The Alliance promoted marine spatial planning and the creation of development zones to ensure appropriate development as well as exclusion zones to protect the marine environment. In 2010, the federal government’s “Smart from the Start” initiative led to the identification of specific areas to minimize conflicts, offshore lease sales and the progress of projects like Vineyard Wind in sites less conflicted than Nantucket Sound.

Offshore wind energy areas in MA and RI

Based on a public process with stakeholder input, the federal government identified offshore Wind Energy Areas along the east coast that aim to minimize conflicts to be suitable for and expedite offshore wind development.

Four developers now hold leases offshore of Massachusetts and Rhode Island: Vineyard Wind, Mayflower Wind, Ørsted Wind (operating as South Fork Wind, Sunrise Wind, Baystate Wind and Revolution Wind), and Equinor Wind (which owns Beacon Wind).

Vineyard Wind is expected to be the first major operational offshore wind project. In May 2021, Vineyard Wind received final federal approval for its 800 megawatt (MW) offshore wind project. It will be located 12 nautical miles off the shore of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket with a lease term of 25 years.

There are several other regional projects that are currently under federal review. Revolution Wind is a 704 to 880 MW project off the coast of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Sunrise Wind is proposed for the lease area south of Revolution Wind. Vineyard Wind South would be built just below the first approved Vineyard Wind project. South Fork Wind’s Construction and Operations Plan was released in May of 2021 and is awaiting final approval.

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