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Cape Wind clears hurdle, faces 2 more

With a key battle in Congress behind them, the developers of a proposed wind farm in Nantucket Sound are pressing ahead with two other key aspects to getting the project off the ground: raising money and seeking to convince the government that it’s worth building.

“To build Cape Wind, we need to be successful at both securing all necessary permits and in raising the capital to finance the project,” said Mark Rodgers, spokesman for Cape Wind Associates. “And we’re working hard at both.”

A compromise recently passed by Congress broke a bitter, months-long stalemate on Capitol Hill, removing a major roadblock for Cape Wind’s plans to build a grid of 130 electricity-generating windmills about six miles off Cape Cod.

The bill also gives the Coast Guard a stronger say in the wind farm’s fate.

Cape Wind has spent more than $23 million since launching its proposal nearly five years ago. The group is turning to banks and investors to finance the project, which is expected to cost about $1 billion, Rodgers said.

At the same time, Cape Wind must convince government regulators that the project passes muster. Its location – a picturesque part of Nantucket Sound – has come under fire in some quarters as jeopardizing bird life, putting boaters at risk and ruining the views of some multimillion-dollar oceanfront homes.

It’s a fight that will rumble on for many more months – and possibly years. Rodgers voiced cautious optimism that the government will give Cape Wind’s plans a green light.

“We’re confident that as long as the review process is allowed to be carried out to its conclusion next year, the project will be found to be in the public interest and approved,” he said.

Opponents, meanwhile, said they expect the Coast Guard to scuttle the project because it would be a hazard to boaters, including fishermen and ferry operators.

“This is a navigational issue and the experts on navigation are the Coast Guard,” said Charles Vinick, president of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound.

Cape Wind promotes its project as a safe, clean way to produce renewable energy, a safer environment and new jobs. Opponents fear the environmental and economic effects on Cape Cod’s tourism and fishing industries, warning that the turbines would pose navigational and radar hazards.

By Andrew Miga

Associated Press