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Cape Wind approved | Economic effects

Decision puts the state at the forefront of wind industry, business leaders say

By Erin Ailworth
Globe Staff / April 29, 2010

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With federal approval yesterday of the Cape Wind project, Massachusetts stands at the nexus of the nation’s growing offshore wind power industry, state and business officials said. And that means jobs: engineering jobs, construction jobs, technical service jobs.

“It spans the spectrum from blue collar to white collar,’’ said Roger Freeman of the advocacy group Progressive Business Leaders Network, which has supported Cape Wind. “It’s boatmen taking boats out there. It’s blue-collar workers turning the wrenches. It helps build Massachusetts as a cluster and a center for renewable energy.’’

Massachusetts already has a growing wind energy industry. A facility to test turbine blades is under construction in Charlestown. Vestas Wind Systems of Denmark has a development hub in Hudson. And earlier this month, Cape Wind agreed to buy 130 wind turbines from Siemens Energy Inc., which plans to open a Boston office. Siemens considers Massachusetts to be “the gateway for the national offshore wind industry,’’ said Ian Bowles, the state’s secretary of energy and environmental affairs.

Investors and wind energy manufacturers have long looked toward the United States as a market with rich potential. But most have hesitated to invest here without clear government support.

The federal endorsement of Cape Wind is probably what they have been waiting for, said Jim Lanard, managing director at Deepwater Wind, an offshore wind developer with projects in the Northeast.

“Now we’ve got the signal that the US is willing to permit offshore wind facilities, and I think you are going to see some greater movement with other offshore wind projects in the near future,’’ Lanard said.

At American Superconductor Corp. in Devens, which both designs and builds electrical systems for wind turbines, spokesman Jason Fredette called the Cape Wind approval a positive development, but said he sees the US wind industry building out only over time. “I don’t necessarily think this one project will open the floodgate,’’ he said.

But as companies begin to build offshore, jobs will follow, some advocates said.

“It means that all of the equipment, the material, for wind turbines will flow through the state,’’ explained Nick d’Arbeloff, cochairman of the New England Clean Energy Council.

At Local 103 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, business manager Michael Monahan said Cape Wind is going to put members to work.

One of the next steps for Cape Wind will be to finalize an agreement with National Grid to purchase electricity generated by the project. Tom King, president of National Grid’s US operations, called Salazar’s approval of Cape Wind a huge milestone.