When I first started covering greentech, I paid close attention to the Cape Wind saga — the proposed first U.S. offshore wind farm off the coast of Massachusetts that has been in limbo for nine long years due to concerns over turbines disturbing local sea views. But I swiftly learned to tune out the ever-extended deadlines and proposals. It was all just too depressing and representative of how NIMBY-ism and political interests can crush clean power projects.
But is the end of the controversy actually near? Probably not, however, the fate of the project is looking somewhat more hopeful. On Wednesday Ken Salazar, secretary of the Department of the Interior, said he would be reviewing the project and that a final decision on Cape Wind would be made by the end of April. Public comments are being accepted until February 13.
The entrepreneur behind Cape Wind Jim Gordon released a statement that suggests he’s optimistic enough:
We are convinced that when Secretary Salazar has the complete record before him that the verifiable public benefits of creating jobs, greater energy independence, cleaner air and mitigating climate change will far outweigh any perception of negative impacts.
If the project is actually approved by April, there’s likely to be several more years of wait on public utility commission approvals, building out the electrical connections, ordering and receiving the turbines, and other issues that will be specifically related to the first offshore wind farm in the U.S.
OK, I know these things take a long time, but if these type of timelines become de rigueur for clean power in the U.S., we’re going to need a whole lot of help making it to any kind of near term domestic carbon emissions cuts.
Image of Nysted offshore wind farm off the coast of Denmark in the Baltic Sea, courtesy of Cape Wind.