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Salazar approves Cape Wind, first U.S. offshore windfarm: “This will be the first of many projects up and down the Atlantic coast.”

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"Salazar approves Cape Wind, first U.S. offshore windfarm: “This will be the first of many projects up and down the Atlantic coast.”"

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At a press conference today, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he expected this would be the “first of many projects up and down the Atlantic coast.” He said America was leading “a clean energy revolution that is reshaping our future” and that “Cape Wind is the opening of a new chapter in that future.”

http://wiki.ggc.usg.edu/mediawiki/images/0/08/Cape-wind-power-farm-b1.jpg

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today approved the Cape Wind renewable energy project on federal submerged lands in Nantucket Sound, but will require the developer of the $1 billion wind farm to agree to additional binding measures to minimize the potential adverse impacts of construction and operation of the facility….

A number of similar projects have been proposed for other northeast coastal states, positioning the region to tap 1 million megawatts of offshore Atlantic wind energy potential, which could create thousands of manufacturing, construction and operations jobs and displace older, inefficient fossil-fueled generating plants, helping significantly to combat climate change.

The announcement could not have been better timed.  Offshore wind taps the clean, safe energy of the 21st century that never runs out, in contrast to that other offshore energy resource, the not-so-clean, not-so-safe energy of the 19th century that can’t sustain the human race (see Spill Baby Spill and ‘Safe’ offshore oil rig explodes, 12 missing, seven critically hurt).

The DOI news release is here, project fact sheet here.

The project calls for 130 turbines of 3.6 megawatts, each with a maximum blade height of 440 feet, to be arranged in a grid pattern in 25 square miles of Nantucket Sound in Federal waters offshore Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket Island. The projected maximum electric output would be 468 MW (average of 183 MW).

Here is what the project would bring to the region.

The Cape Wind project would be the first wind farm on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf, generating enough power to meet 75 percent of the electricity demand for Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island combined. The project would create several hundred construction jobs and be one of the largest greenhouse gas reduction initiatives in the nation, cutting carbon dioxide emissions from conventional power plants by 700,000 tons annually. That is equivalent to removing 175,000 cars from the road for a year.

The junior Senator from Massachusetts begs to differ:

US Senator Scott Brown criticized Salazar’s decision, saying it was “misguided.”

“With unemployment hovering near ten percent in Massachusetts, the Cape Wind project will jeopardize industries that are vital to the Cape’s economy, such as tourism and fishing, and will also impact aviation safety and the rights of the Native American tribes in the area. I am also skeptical about the cost-savings and job number predictions we have heard from proponents of the project,” Brown said in a statement.

I guess he’d rather be drilling off the coast of Massachusetts.

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Interior secretary approves Cape Wind, nation’s first offshore wind farm

Posted by Beth Daley April 28, 2010 12:33 PM

By Beth Daley and Martin Finucane

In a groundbreaking decision that some say will usher in a new era of clean energy, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said today he was approving the nation’s first offshore wind farm, the controversial Cape Wind project off of Cape Cod.

salazar_nantucket.jpg

Secretary Ken Salazar

“This will be the first of many projects up and down the Atlantic coast,” Salazar said at a joint State House news conference with Governor Deval Patrick. The decision comes after nine years of battles over the proposal.”America needs offshore wind power and with this project, Massachusetts will lead the nation,” Patrick said.

The decision had been delayed for almost a year because of two Wampanoag Indian tribes’ complaints that the 130 turbines, which would stand more than 400 feet above the ocean surface, would disturb spiritual sun greetings and possibly ancestral artifacts and burial grounds on the seabed, which was once exposed land before the sea level rose thousands of years ago.

Salazar said he had ordered modifications to “minimize and mitigate” the impact of the project that would “help protect the historical, cultural, and environmental resources of Nantucket Sound.” He said his approval would require Cape Wind to conduct additional marine archaeological surveys and take other steps to reduce the project’s visual impact.

“I am convinced there is a path we can take forward that both honors our responsibility to protect historical and cultural resources and at the same time meets the need to repower our economy with clean energy produced from wind power,” he said.

He said the United States was leading “a clean energy revolution that is reshaping our future. … Cape Wind is the opening of a new chapter in that future and we are all a part of that history.”

Supporters have long said an approval would be a giant step forward for renewable energy efforts in the country, while opponents have said they would seek to kill the project through legal action. The project, if it is not held up by lawsuits, could begin construction within the year.

The project has undergone years of environmental review and political maneuvering, including opposition from the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, whose home overlooks Nantucket Sound. While opponents’ main concern is esthetics — the turbines would be visible low on the horizon from the Cape and Islands — the battle was fought by raising other issues, including possible effects on property values and harm to birds, fishing, aviation, and historic and cultural sites.

Horseshoe Shoals, the part of Nantucket Sound where the wind farm is proposed, is widely considered the best place along the East Coast to build a wind farm. That’s in part because the site is in shallow, sheltered waters close to shore — the nearest beach is five miles away. But it is also because it is in federal waters: Political will to build such a massive wind farm in state waters three miles from shore does not exist.

Salazar said the project would create 1,000 construction jobs and produce energy equivalent to that of a medium-sized coal-fired power plant. He said it would reduce carbon emissions by the equivalent of 175,000 cars.

Cape Wind Associates said the wind farm could produce enough wind power to handle three-quarters of the electric needs of the Cape and Islands. The price of its electricity is expected to be higher than conventional power. The company is still in negotiations with National Grid, the utility, that has agreed to purchase some of the power the farm produces.

US Senator Scott Brown criticized Salazar’s decision, saying it was “misguided.”

“With unemployment hovering near ten percent in Massachusetts, the Cape Wind project will jeopardize industries that are vital to the Cape’s economy, such as tourism and fishing, and will also impact aviation safety and the rights of the Native American tribes in the area. I am also skeptical about the cost-savings and job number predictions we have heard from proponents of the project,” Brown said in a statement.

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34 Responses to Salazar approves Cape Wind, first U.S. offshore windfarm: “This will be the first of many projects up and down the Atlantic coast.”

  1. It is about time. Wind energy is economical and practical for years.
    Allow me to toot my own horn- 32 years ago the California Energy Commission developed the pioneering wind energy programs that put commercial wind energy on the world map. I developed and directed that program. That was the abstract of my plan:

    Wind-electric energy is a sleeping giant. Its large energy capabilities, competitive economics, and social and environmental advantages are not generally known. Wind-electric energy, however, should be one of the major renewable energy supplies in California and in the nation.

    The goal of this proposed. program is the generation of at least 10 percent (30 billion kWh/year) of the state’s electricity by wind-electric systems by the year 2000. This could be generated by approximately 3,300 three-megawatt wind-electric conversion systems (WECS) located on 100 utility-owned, wind-electric farms.
    Dr. Matania Ginosar, manager, the Wind energy Program, California Energy Commission 1978

    http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all~content=a777978700

  2. Bob Wallace says:

    Brown, your Republican Senator at work. Spreading “mis-truths”.

    Building the wind farm will create a lot of jobs and maintaining it will mean a significant number of jobs into the future.

    Fishing will not be hurt. Most likely fishing will be helped with the creation of a 25 square mile “fish nursery and feeding zone”. Certainly has worked elsewhere.

    Tourism will be hurt? That’s very hard to believe.

    Aviation safety? Does he speak out against multi-storied buildings?

  3. Bob O. says:

    Great news.

    I just wish that was happening here on the Louisiana coast. Instead, we have to watch our waters be set on fire and still have oil coat our coast.

    I’m eating as much shrimp and oysters as I can before it gets too dirty to do so.

    http://oilonthebeach.blogspot.com/2010/04/um-yeah-thats-good-idea.html

    Bob from NOLA

  4. Jonah says:

    Oh man, I was in a perfectly good mood until I read that Scott Brown quote. What a clown. And he’s my senator! Ugh.

  5. Sasparilla says:

    Great news, thank goodness this was done. Hopefully things can move forward on this and other projects.

  6. Rockfish says:

    Awesome headline on HuffPost:

    “BLOW, BABY, BLOW
    Obama Administration Approves Nation’s First-Ever Offshore Wind Farm

    MEANWHILE: Oil Spill From Offshore Rig On Gulf Coast To Be Set Ablaze”

  7. Chris Dudley says:

    I’m glad that extra archaeological provisions have been included. We may learn something of sea level rise from that. 8000 year ago, sea level was 20 m lower than today. We may be producing such a shift in centuries. At 20 m of further sea level rise, Nantucket is largely submerged.

    There once was an island Nantucket
    With elevation so low the sea sucked it.
    My ear is all tin
    One Kennedy grinned
    But the turbines finally stopped it.

  8. Bill Waterhouse says:

    re #1 – Dr. Ginosar – We certainly can and should do many more wind farm projects in California, including offshore projects. As an LA native I often wonder why no wind generators are proposed for San Pedro Bay where we have strong and normally reliable winds. The wind farm could be located on the breakwater or further offshore. There are also a number of oil platforms that could be recycled for housing wind generators. Perhaps this is addressed in your paper, but it costs $37 to access online. Can you or anyone else explain why So Cal Edison, LADWP and PG&E are not aggressively pursuing offshore wind projects?

  9. Leif says:

    If anyone is going to Massachusetts be sure and tell the you came to see the first offshore wind farm in America.

  10. Pete O'Connor says:

    Being a native of MA, I am thrilled this is finally going ahead. The anti-wind folks were a loud and well-funded minority, but we’re going to need this site *and* the alternative sites that they suggested in the future.

  11. Will Greene says:

    Well I guess we know where Brown will go on the climate bill.

  12. Hurt tourism? People will go there to see it. Everytime I’ve driven past a wind farm I have to make a special effort to keep my eyes on the road: watching the things is hypnotic.

  13. Dan B says:

    Senator Scott ‘Quixote’?

    Where’s a cartoonist?

  14. MarkB says:

    Good news, although the article says lawsuits might be pending for awhile before construction can start.

    I agree Scott Brown’s arguments are pretty disingenuous (as if he cares about Native Americans). One could also argue that the nation’s first offshore wind farm might actually boost tourism.

    On another topic, I’m rather confused as to what Kerry/Lieberman/Graham are doing. This article doesn’t clear things up that much. It’s vague, but it seems Graham wants an out. Even if the climate bill goes before immigration, he won’t even tolerate talk of immigration reform being on the table at all this year. He just keeps making stubborn excuses.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN2710469220100427

    [JR: It does seem that way. Not 100% clear yet.]

  15. Ohioan says:

    Wait, before we unload on Sen. Brown, you must remember that Ted Kennedy opposed this all his life, calling it a “Special Interest Giveaway”…

    Democrats are very NIMBY when it comes to offshore wind – I guess it’s finally time we do things as a country.

  16. Carroll Branson says:

    As far as the turbines go, I think they’ll spruce up the Kennedy compound a bit — here’s an artist’s rendition of how it’ll look, minus the drunk nephews hopping around outside with their pants around their ankles chasing the catering waitresses (known to the locals as the “Hyannisport potato sack race”):

    http://michellemalkin.com/2010/04/28/cape-wind-project-a-go/

  17. Carroll Branson says:

    As far as the turbines go, I think they’ll spruce up the Kennedy compound a bit — here’s an artist’s rendition of how it’ll look, minus the drunk nephews hopping around outside with their pants around their ankles chasing the catering waitresses (known to the locals as the “Hyannisport potato sack race”):

    http://michellemalkin.com/2010/04/28/cape-wind-project-a-go/

  18. Alex A. says:

    Mark B. (#12) said:

    “Scott Brown’s arguments are pretty disingenuous (as if he cares about Native Americans)”

    From what I know of Sen. Scott Brown, his platform is shallow and he is on the wrong side of many issues, but alleging that he only feigns concern for Native Americans is a pretty harsh.

    U.S. Clean Energy won a long overdue victory. Brown is not really in a position to do much of anything about it, so let’s just ignore him without guessing at motives.

  19. Alex A. says:

    MarkB’s comment was #14. sorry.

  20. BB says:

    This is great news…

    Wind Turbines in action have their own innate magestic beauty that will more than spice up any oceanside Cape view…And, someone’s willing to put up the money too…why stand in the way of a good thing.

  21. Ben Lieberman says:

    As another Massachusetts resident I agree that it is about time.
    Because I am an historian I was especially disappointed at how the historic preservation people let themselves get spun. We need more wind power.

  22. Mark says:

    One should also write a note of thanks to Gov. Patrick, who has been a stalwart supporter of clean energy and Cape Wind in particular.

    The GOP gubernatorial candidate, Charles Baker, claims that he isn’t smart enough to form an opinion on the hottest environmental topic of the day. Climate change: Does he believe in it, or doesn’t he?

    “I’m not saying I believe in it. I’m not saying I don’t” he told the Globe. “You’re asking me to take a position on something I don’t know enough about.”

    He added, “I absolutely am not smart enough to believe I know the answer to that question.”
    http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/02/07/cahill_buys_super_bowl_air_time_for_campaign/

    We need representatives and governors who are smart enough to work for clean energy.

  23. Bob Wallace says:

    I believe the Cape Wind site was moved further offshore from the original proposed site and this greatly reduced resistance from those living along the coast. Still visible, but not so much “right in your face”….

  24. catman306 says:

    Why can’t those big oil and coal companies put some of their excess profits into backing wind and solar which have so many long term good attributes while their oil and coal are running out?

  25. mspelto says:

    This is great at long last. I have asked the question on my final for years, should we build Cape Wind, and they get graded on the strength of their arguments. Now I will gladly retire this question.

  26. Dan B says:

    Catman 306;

    I’ve encountered a fair number of Exxon / Mobil and chemical industry types. The Kool-Aid is pretty thick in these corporations. The latest Exxon / Mobil manager I encountered stated that there was plenty of oil yet to be discovered. His hometown of Adelaide has been told by the Australian Govt. that there is no guarantee that there will be enough water for the city.

    Disconnect – you bet!

    Dan

    P.S. We could go on at length about the “wonders of chemicals” and how “people are superstitious about the dangers”. My father, the research chemist, wouldn’t let us near Weed and Feed and a host of other persistent chemicals.

  27. Ronald says:

    The Eiffel tower was opposed by most French people as it was being built and maybe these wind power towers will be more accepted as well. But this isn’t just a question of putting in Cape Wind or not having offshore wind power at all anywhere.

    The straight line distance of the eastern shore is over 1500 miles. Does the first offshore wind farm have to be here? What was the criteria of the selection? Was this the best place along the entire eastern shore to put in an offshore wind farm?

    Wind turbines and wind turbine wind farms are industrial. They are accepted more is some places than others just like some industrial plants are more accepted some places than others. I think some of the arguments against putting the windfarm in high tourist areas or other arguments should be taken against putting the windfarm anywhere else along the 1500 plus miles of the eastern shore.

    I’m all for wind power. If we put in 400 000 windpower turbines that had 2.5 Megawatt capacity in the wind corridor from Texas to North Dakota, we could generate all the electricity the United States uses. It would only take up half of an area the size of South Dakota or one and a half percent of the continental US. The footprint of the turbines would be 36 square miles with more for the roads.

    If we actually did all that, we still should be concerned with the opinions of the people who would be living near these things and try to accommodate them where possible, just like to any other industrial plant.

  28. substanti8 says:

    [20]

    “Wind Turbines in action have their own innate magestic beauty …”

    You must be joking; they’re butt ugly.  I generally support wind power, but I have grave misgivings about scale.

    Meanwhile, I agree with Ronald [27], although I would point out that the Eiffel tower has architectural beauty, while wind towers don’t.  I’ll add that filling our landscape with giant wind towers (400,000 ???!!) is a process of creating Industrialism 2.0 – a process that I will not support.

  29. Sloop says:

    In answer to Ron at 27, Why is Cape Wind to be located where it is?

    1- Close to load centers in N England
    2- Will be situated on horseshoe shoals which is relatively shallower than rest of Nantucket/Vineyard Sound so foundations don’t have to be as large
    3- This region is relatively sheltered from ocean waves which can significantly impact foundation costs
    And of course it is in a federal waters ‘donut hole’

    It is a busy waterway in terms of rec boating, comm fishing, ferries to the islands and some maritime traffic; but keep in mind too that the sounds are very large. There’s plenty of space for everybody.

  30. Roger says:

    Hmm, let’s see if I can help connect the dots on this.

    Cape Wind: good (majestic, clean, explosion-proof…);
    Offshore oil rigs: bad (ugly, polluting, explosive…).
    (A triumph of science & reason over ignorance & greed!)

    Except for our brown senator, proud to call MA home.

  31. TAFL says:

    Ronald on #27, there is enough wind the US Midwest to power the whole USA, but it would require building high-voltage transmission lines on an unprecedented scale to get the electricity to the users. It is a much more viable project to place the windfarms offshore near the urban centers, thereby minimizing transmission investments, promoting efficient installation (offshore boats and rigs are much better than big trucks on roads), and keeping the windmills “out of the way” of land development and activity. The downside is the cost of foundations for the towers offshore is considerably higher than for land. But on the other hand, it is possible to use even bigger turbines offshore than on land, and this would lower installed unit costs.

  32. SecularAnimist says:

    catman306 wrote: “Why can’t those big oil and coal companies put some of their excess profits into backing wind and solar which have so many long term good attributes while their oil and coal are running out?”

    Their business model can’t handle wind and solar.

    Their business model is based on mining, refining and selling a limited supply of costly fuel.

    The business model of wind and solar is manufacturing and selling the technology for harvesting an endless supply of FREE energy. There is no fuel.

    There surely will be corporate “energy giants” in the renewable energy future. But they will more closely resemble Intel than ExxonMobil (in fact Intel will probably be one of them).

    They will be high-tech innovators, profiting from inventing the technological tools that enable individuals, households, communities, businesses, warehouses, shopping malls, parking lots, office buildings, farms and more to harvest abundant, ubiquitous, unlimited, FREE wind and solar energy — they won’t be purveyors of fuel, because there will be no need for fuel any more.

    And there will be no need for fossil fuel corporations.

  33. MiMo says:

    #27 & #28: 400,000 turbines at 2.5 MW each that produce full power 33% of the time (I don’t have a source for that, but seems resonable – correct me if I am wrong) gives you around 3 million GWh per year.

    US power consumption in 2004 was around 4 million GWh (http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/ene_ele_pow_con_kwh-energy-electric-power-consumption-kwh). Consumption now should be higher, and if in the future transport is electrified it will be much higher still.

    I am afraid you’ll need something like 1 million turbines or more, not 400,000.

    And then you’ll need the power lines and – don’t foget – systems to store and release all that power to compensate for wind fluctuations (dams + pumping stations + more power lines).

  34. am not sure about wind farms up and down the Atlantic coast. It may be a good idea. Maybe it has been well-conveived and well-though-out. I am not so sure though. Centraol Illinois, of all places, has been recently deluged with new farm farms -both already-built and other on the drawing board and in develpment. There is a very thoughtful article about some of the aesthetic and other issues at:

    http://funks2.wordpress.com/2010/04/29/____________windfarms__________________-seemed-like-such-a-great-idea-until-they-showed-up-near-my-house/