Cape Wind Associates – the company that wants to build a wind farm on Nantucket Sound – last month filed a 5,407-page report to provide state, county and municipal agencies with the information they need to consider the company’s permit applications.
Required by law under the state Environmental Protection Act, the so-called Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) is now under review by the state Executive Office of Environmental Affairs.
Ian Bowles, the state environmental secretary, is due to make a final decision on whether to accept the report by March 29.
If accepted by Bowles, the FEIR will become the official go-to document for a number of players – including Coastal Zone Management, the Cape Cod Commission and the town of Yarmouth – that will be involved in the permitting process on the state side of the Cape Wind proposal.
As far as Cape Wind is concerned, the company has supplied all the answers the state requires about building 130 wind turbines in federal waters between the Cape and Islands, and running underwater transmission lines to the Cape. ”This has been a thorough and exhaustive process,” said Mark Rogers, spokesman for Cape Wind.
As far as opponents are concerned, there are still unanswered questions – gaps in the FEIR report that could hinder accurate assessment of the company’s claims.
”This report is little more than an infomercial for Cape Wind,” said Audra Parker, assistant director of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound.
On Monday, the public can comment on the project’s environmental impact during a public hearing sponsored by the Cape Cod Commission at 6:30 p.m. at Mattacheese Middle School on Higgins Crowell Road in West Yarmouth.
Highlights of the Cape Wind FEIR include the following:
n This is the first environmental impact report that includes the findings of the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board – a decision upheld by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. The board found that Cape Wind would provide needed power, create substantial and lasting air quality benefits, and reduce energy costs.
n The wind farm would generate 75 percent of the Cape and Islands’ electricity without polluting the air and would reduce the pollution coming from other power plants.
n The company would operate three staffed maintenance service vessels out of Falmouth Harbor. It also would locate a staffed operations center in Yarmouth, creating a total of 55 Cape-based permanent jobs.
n The wind farm would make the region more independent of imported energy sources and provide greater diversification to the electricity generation portfolio, making electricity generation more secure and less vulnerable to supply shortages and price volatility.
n The project would have a minimal environmental effect on the ecology of Nantucket Sound, based on the recent eight-year study of Denmark’s two largest offshore wind farms that found those projects to be good neighbors to birds, fish and marine mammals.
The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound disputes the report’s findings, saying that the FEIR does not answer many questions, including how the wind farm would be dismantled after its 20-year lifespan, or who would pay for decommissioning. Cape Wind says that there are no federal regulations covering decommissioning yet.
The Alliance also is skeptical of Cape Wind’s claims about the lack of harm to commercial and recreational fishing, and bird life.
And, the Alliance says the FEIR ignores or dismisses a potential threat to national security, with no mention of a U.S. Department of Defense study on the impact the wind farm could have on military radar systems.
By Karen Jeffrey
Cape Cod Times
14 March 2007
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding