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Secretary Salazar Approves Cape Wind Energy Project; First US Windfarm on Outer Continental Shelf

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar 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.

Cape
Project site map. Click to enlarge.

The Cape Wind project would be the first wind farm on the US Outer Continental Shelf, generating enough power to meet 75% 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.

Because of concerns expressed during the consultations, Interior has required the developer to change the design and configuration of the wind turbine farm to diminish the visual effects of the project and to conduct additional seabed surveys to ensure that any submerged archaeological resources are protected prior to bottom disturbing activities.

Under these revisions, the number of turbines has been reduced from 170 to 130, eliminating turbines to reduce the visual impacts from the Kennedy Compound National Historic Landmark; reconfiguring the array to move it farther away from Nantucket Island; and reducing its breadth to mitigate visibility from the Nantucket Historic District. Regarding possible seabed cultural and historic resources, a Chance Finds Clause in the lease requires the developer to halt operations and notify Interior of any unanticipated archaeological find.

The Cape Wind Associates, LLC facility would occupy a 25-square-mile section of Nantucket Sound and generate a maximum electric output of 468 megawatts with an average anticipated output of 182 megawatts. At average expected production, Cape Wind could produce enough energy to power more than 200,000 homes in Massachusetts.

Horseshoe Shoals lies outside shipping channels, ferry routes and flight paths but is adjacent to power-consuming coastal communities. One-fifth of the offshore wind energy potential of the East Coast is located off the New England coast and Nantucket Sound receives strong, steady Atlantic winds year round. The project includes a 66.5-mile buried submarine transmission cable system, an electric service platform and two 115-kilovolt lines connecting to the mainland power grid.

Comments

sd

Better in the Kennedy's backyard than mine.

This whole project could be replaced with a single combined cycle gas turbine unit. However, I would rather see it replaced with a nuclear power plant that would put out about 6 to 8 times the average power.

HarveyD

A 1820 MW (equivalent to 10 x 182 MW wind turbines) nuclear facility built 150+ feet underground with most if not all (secondary) heat used to generate more electricity or to supply heating to local industries c o u l d perhaps be more acceptable to the local population. It would certainly be less visible. However, anti-nuclear groups would have a field day.

Alternatively, two smaller (910 MW) facilities could be built in two different locations. Initial cost could be higher but part of it could be offset with shorter transmission lines and better matching with increased consumption in the area.

Will S

Long overdue and a way to start reducing our addiction to fossil fuels...

ejj

I hope this is the beginning of much more streamlined and faster regulatory process for offshore wind. The whole problem with Cape Wind was that it would be visible from the Kennedy compound and the homes of the other rich elites. It exposed their hypocrisy and nimbyism when it came to renewable energy; a bunch of angry people with money & attorneys can paralyze the regulatory process very quickly. Theoretically, it should be a lot easier going forward, unless someone proposes a wind farm off of Miami Beach or Sanibel Island, or another obscure indian tribe claims they worship their nature gods around the rest of the coast of the US.

Stan Peterson

Wonderful. All the people who cannot resist running everybody else's life, will now experience the same inconvenience and outright uselessness of their ideas. Using an intermittent generator for more than 20% of power generation means that the system Grid will be unstable, and subject to wide voltage swings and power surges that lead to Blackouts. As T. Boone Pickens ruefully discovered; and wanted everyone else to bail out his ignominious windmill investments.

The Cape Wind project is to nominally supply 75% of the power to the Islands, which means it is totally useless, unstable power. But windmill experience says that power actually produced from the 1 $Billion dollars or so, is roughly 8% of what is nominal nameplate advertised, as all other such Utility installations average and attest.

Then the power for the Islands will fall to around 6% of Island needs, well within the range of power regulation of intermittent sources by stable base load generators.

When all is said and done, the only thing that will happen is that the price of electricity will skyrocket on the Islands when the Billion Dollar Boondoggle joins the Grid and ratebase. And another conventional Power generation Plant will have to be built too.

So what? The multi-billionaires on Marth's Vineyard/Nantucket won't notice that. Perhaps they might notice the Cape Wind Power Project being abandoned in 9 year or so, after its realistic lifetime has been achieved, based on Utility experience in such installations. Even as its advertised as a 30 year project, and the Utility Bonds were sold on that basis.

Might they even learn a thing a two about the real world and engineering reality, versus politically correct reality? No. It will never even be noticed by the gliteratti as they flit about from yacht party, to to yacht party.

HarveyD

Stan:

No matter what technology is used, some people will object if they live there or nearby or drive by every 10 moons or so.

Solar farms in the middle of large deserts may be more acceptable to humans because they do no live there.

Nuclear plants deep under large mountains could also be included in the acceptable list. Such plants would be much easier to protect.

Something like 10 Kwh to 20 Kwh of integrated solar panels on/in your own roof + batteries would do the trick as long as your neighbors, joggers and birds like the color etc.

A majority vote on half a dozen options could be used to reduce objections.

sulleny

A PC boondoggle which we suspect will do much to kill all offshore wind farms going forward. It's hard to believe that the huge amount of underwater construction this requires won't permanently affect the marine eco-system. With the intermittent delivery, cost of conventional stand by plant, eco-impact on birds and marine - this appears an exercise in Kennedy/human hate. Of which we witness more and more of.

And you've got to wonder where are the Euro-global offshore wind projects? Any off of Mallorca? Cannes? Amalfi? Dalmation coast? India? Japan? Australia's barrier reef? NZ? Hong Kong? Quangdong? No? What an effed up universe.

ai_vin

There are a lot of places where wind farms are not put because offshore wind turbines must be sited where a consistent wind resource exists and in waters 30 meters deep or less. The only way around this is to develop floating wind turbines but even now there are still a lot of places wind farms can be put; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_offshore_wind_farms

Jim Bartus

@Stan, have any sources to back up this claim

windmill experience says that power actually produced from the 1 $Billion dollars or so, is roughly 8% of what is nominal nameplate advertised, as all other such Utility installations average and attest.

The numbers in the article work out to an assumed 40% of nameplate capacity. Most articles I've read here (GCC) or elsewhere throw around 30 - 33% for land-based installations, but usually more as conventional wisdom than as a cited reference number. Where did you get 8?

ejj

Sulleny wrote: "It's hard to believe that the huge amount of underwater construction this requires won't permanently affect the marine eco-system."

What about navigation buoys? What about beach renourishment? Docks? Dredging for navigation channels? There are a lot worse activities, cumulatively on more regional levels, that permanently affect ecosystems --- the key word is "adversely". Do you own a house or live in an apartment Sulleny? Do you drive a car? The area your house or apartment is located was natural once, and has been permanently affected. Building the road to drive your car permanently affected the natural area that was bulldozed for the road. Uplands are "adversely" affected on a daily basis for development purposes, and these permanent ecological impacts dwarf whatever offshore turbine projects we could ever imagine. Which is why I believe upland mitigation (in addition to wetland mitigation) should be required for development, but that would be picking a property rights fight I don't want to get into. Ultimately I think you're overstating whatever undersea "permanent" effects could occur from turbines (unless they're built in coral reefs or affect archaeological finds or pollute water in some way shape or form).

3PeaceSweet

The load on the grid varies over a day and the electricity system can cope with this.

Wind rotating a generator cannot be described as left wing or politcally correct anymore than evolution or gravity.

The anti wind and anti nuclear lobbies are both slightly mad IMO and assume that utilities have no idea what they are doing!

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