Cape Wind Power Project Off Massachusetts Wins U.S. Construction Approval

The Cape Wind Energy Project won U.S. Interior Department approval of its construction plan in Massachusetts for the nation’s first offshore wind farm.

Cape Wind Associates said building the wind turbines in the water, a project in development for about a decade, may begin as early as the U.S. fall. Federal officials said approving the plan is a milestone in developing clean-energy sources that will help lower carbon emissions and create jobs.

“After a thorough review of environmental impacts, we are confident that this offshore commercial wind project -- the first in the nation -- can move forward,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement.

Cape Wind plans to install 130 wind turbines in Nantucket Sound off the Massachusetts coast. The project has been opposed by homeowners whose ocean view would be affected by the windmill towers and by local lawmakers as a threat to a sensitive ecosystem.

The Interior Department is seeking to speed the process of building wind energy projects off the Atlantic Coast, Salazar said today. In February, Salazar and Energy Secretary Steven Chu said development off New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia may advance when no environmental impediments are identified.

“Taking 10 years to permit an offshore wind project like Cape Wind is completely unacceptable,” Salazar said today at a news conference in Boston’s Charlestown Navy Yard national park where he was joined by Cape Wind Vice President Dennis Duffy.

The department today took a step that may lead to a wind farm near New Jersey, seeking information to gauge interest and shortening the time for development, Salazar said.

Duffy said Cape Wind has yet to sell half the power the wind farm is forecast to produce.

“We are confident the bulk of the power will be sold and discussions are underway,” Duffy said

Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement approved the construction and operations plan.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jim Snyder in Washington at jsnyder24@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Liebert at lliebert@bloomberg.net

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