The controversial Cape Wind project now has every federal permit it needs to start construction in the fall, US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced today.
The approval of an 800-page construction and operations plan for the 130 turbine project in Nantucket Sound was widely expected, but Salazar traveled to Boston to make the announcement, saying it illustrates the Obama administration’s commitment to wind power, especially along the blustery Atlantic Coast.
"This is an important final step," Salazar said at the Charlestown Navy Yard, where he made the announcement wearing his signature cowboy hat. "We are even closer toward ushering in our nation’s first offshore wind energy facility while creating jobs."
Yet opponents at the press conference said they would not relent in their quest to kill the wind farm, noting there are 11 lawsuits to block the project.
"They are attempting to declare victory in a war that is far from over,"’ said Audra Parker of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound the main group opposing the project since it was first proposed more than 10 years ago.
While Cape Wind has found a buyer for 50 percent of its power output, it has not for the remainder, raising questions about whether all 130 turbines will be built. Yet Dennis Duffy, vice president of Cape Wind Associates said yesterday the company is confident it will secure a buyer for the other half.
The federal approval comes as the state proposed today to redefine a different federal ocean area also being considered for offshore wind. The state wants the federal government to remove about half of a 3,000 square mile area in waters south of Massachusetts from potential wind development to protect vital fishing grounds that scientists and fishermen have identified.
"We submitted a proposal that would move the Commonwealth toward (making Massachusetts the nation’s offshore wind energy leader) while safeguarding waters important to our commercial fishing industry," said Richard K. Sullivan Jr. state secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
About the green blog
Helping Boston live a greener, more environmentally friendly life.
Christopher Reidy covers business for the Globe.
Doug Struck covers environmental issues from Boston.
Glenn Yoder produces Boston.com's Lifestyle pages.
Eric Bauer is site architect of Boston.com.
Bennie DiNardo is the Boston Globe's deputy managing editor/multimedia.
Dara Olmsted is a local sustainability professional focusing on green living.