NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Cape Cod Commission in Massachusetts Thursday denied Cape Wind’s application to bury electric cables needed to connect its proposed 420-megawatt offshore wind farm in the Nantucket Sound to the state power grid.
Cape Wind said in a release that it would challenge the Commission decision. The Cape Cod Commission is a local organization created by the state in 1990 to manage growth and protect Cape Cod’s natural resources.
Sen. Ted Kennedy and many residents who own coastal property from where they could see the wind turbines on a clear day oppose the project along with some environmental groups concerned about disrupting the patterns of migratory birds and the potential effect on local sea life.
The project’s supporters, who include other environmental groups, meanwhile claim it would provide renewable energy, improve air quality, lower electricity costs and increase the reliability of the power grid.
Although the wind farm would be located in federal waters, the transmission lines connecting the project to the grid crosses land controlled by state and local authorities.
The Commission said it did not have enough information to make a decision. Local papers said Cape Wind could offer to provide more information to the Commission or appeal to the state to override the local authorities, or both.
“The Commission’s denial based, not on the merits but, on claims that Cape Wind provided insufficient information does not square with the record,” Jim Gordon, president of Cape Wind, said in a release.
Energy Management Inc, of Boston, the developer of Cape Wind, proposed in 2001 to build the offshore wind farm, on Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound.
At that time, Energy Management hoped the project, expected to cost more than $500 million, would start generating electricity in 2004.
The project consists of 130 General Electric Co 3.6 megawatt wind turbines, capable of generating over 400 MW, which is enough to supply about three-quarters of the electricity needs of Cape Cod and the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.
The turbines, located more than 5 miles away from the Cape Cod coast, will stand about 440 feet from the surface of the water to the tip of the blade.
Due in part to an increase in global demand for steel and wind turbines, Cape Wind now expects the project to cost about $1 billion and the permitting process to continue through 2008 or beyond.
The lead federal agency needed to approve the project is the Minerals Management Service, a bureau in the U.S. Department of the Interior. MMS manages the nation’s natural gas, oil and other mineral resources on the outer continental shelf.
MMS has said it expects to issue a draft report on the project later this autumn.
If approved, it would take Cape Wind about 18 months to construct the wind farm.