Amid swirling controversy, the Cape Wind project, the first major offshore wind farm for the U.S., has successfully received all necessary federal and state sign-offs.
Last Wednesday, the Federal Aviation Administration declared that the Cape Wind project would not present any problems for air traffic and could go ahead, while complying with certain regulations.
Although the Obama administration had approved Cape Wind back in April 2010, it has met with systematic opposition from various groups and individuals. The major argument against the project suggests that the wind farm – comprised of 130 turbines – would seriously endanger the natural flora and fauna of the Nantucket Sound and drive down property and land values in the region.
Added to that, the project has faced opposition to renewable energy development, with the usual accusations of wasteful expenditure on energy credits and so on. The latest on that note is accusations emanating from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which claims that the Obama administration implicitly pressured the FAA to green-light Cape Wind.
The FAA has reiterated its commitment to ensuring all regulations were being met, among them the key criterion of requiring all Cape Wind developers to make each turbine highly visible to air traffic from a distance. To do this, they are required to put lights on every 440-foot turbine and use specified colors of paint to aid visibility.
Energy Management Inc., a private Mass.-based energy company, is building the Cape Wind facility with turbines from German company Siemens (NYSE: SI). Once completed, the facility is expected to create 150 full-time positions, while also generating at least 600 to 1,000 jobs during the construction phase. After all financing, the Interior Department’s lease on Cape Wind gives it a 25-year lifetime.