The United States’ first offshore wind farm was approved for construction 5 miles off the coast of Massachusetts.
The Massachusetts offshore wind project — known as Cape Wind — first sought a permit in 2001.
Since then, ten other countries have built wind farms, including China, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the UK — leaving the U.S. in the dust.
Currently, wind farms in the U.S. only produce roughly 2% of the nation’s energy, all of which comes from land-based farms in California, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wyoming and other Midwestern states.
Offshore locations are considered optimal because wind is more powerful and consistent off the coast.
Finally, on April 19th, after 9 years of delays on the project, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar approved Cape Wind’s permit.
Construction on the 130 wind turbines to be located in the Nantucket Sound should begin later this year.
And power generation could begin as early as 2012.
The turbines will be placed a third to a half mile apart, covering about 25 of the 500 square miles of Nantucket Sound.
Salazar believes the Cape Wind project is the start of a “new energy frontier” for the United States. He said, “Cape Wind is an opening of a new chapter in that future, and we are all part of that history.”
The wind farm will supply clean power to homes and businesses in Massachusetts.
To be exact, the wind farm would produce enough electricity to power 400,000 houses in the surrounding areas.
With that said, the clean energy project is capable of replacing 113 million gallons of oil per year, reducing our dependence on foreign oil.
Cape Wind will also create thousands of jobs during the 18-month construction period and provide 150 permanent jobs in Cape Cod.
Most importantly, the offshore project would allow the United States to finally join the global offshore wind race.
That’s if the opposition does not prolong the 9-year stalemate.
Opposition groups are planning to sue the project, saying it will decrease property value, destroy fishing, and hinder tourism; not to mention, they believe the farm will be an eyesore in Nantucket’s pristine waters.
Native Americans also plan to bring Cape Wind to court stating the farm will interfere with sunrise ceremonies.
Cape Wind has countered all of these claims over the past 9 years promising the thin turbines, located miles off the closest shore, will be nothing more than mere dots along the horizon.
Salazar is unafraid of these oppositions. He stated, “This is the final decision of the United States of America.”
Salazar believes the project has been delayed long enough facing regulatory challenges, all of which it has passed.
He is confident the courts will uphold his decision, and Cape Wind will be on its way this year.
Hopefully Mr. Salazar is right. After nearly a decade of waiting, the offshore wind energy industry deserves a chance to prove it can change the U.S. energy landscape for the better.
Furthermore, it is past due for the U.S. to show the international world that it too is prepared to take on the climate issues that face our entire planet.
With China and Europe well on their way to creating high renewable energy percentages, the U.S. can not afford to stand on the sidelines any longer.
Until next time,