The state’s highest court on Monday upheld a decision permitting construction of transmission lines to bring electricity from the Cape Wind project to shore.
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed a May 2005 decision by the state Energy Facilities Siting Board that was challenged by a group opposing the Cape Wind project.
The high court said the board adopted “an eminently reasonable and practical approach to the uncommon jurisdictional issues presented by the petition” seeking to build a pair of 18-mile-long transmission lines.
If it receives needed federal approval, Cape Wind would become the nation’s first offshore wind farm – a unique status that has presented local, state and federal jurisdictional questions during five years of government reviews.
The SJC found the state board acted within its discretion in deviating from an existing standard to determine whether such transmission projects are needed.
The appeal by Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound focused in part on the board’s decision to apply a new standard.
The petition to build the transmission lines was filed by project developer Cape Wind Associates and Commonwealth Electric Co., doing business as NStar Electric. The board’s approval was conditional on the project receiving other federal, state and local permits.
The applicants seek to build two 115-kilovolt lines to transmit electricity generated by 130 wind turbines in federal waters in Nantucket Sound. The lines would run under the sea floor and pass beneath state waters before reaching shore at Yarmouth and continuing underground to a Barnstable switching station.
Cape Wind touts its project as a safe, clean way to create renewable energy, a safer environment and new jobs. Opponents fear the environmental and economic effects on Cape Cod’s tourist and fishing industries, warning the turbines would pose navigational and radar hazards. They also say the turbines could hurt the views of some multimillion-dollar oceanfront homes.
The Associated Press
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