Faced with opposition to his Nantucket Sound wind farm from local regulators, developer Jim Gordon is trying another strategy.
Go around them.
In a 32-page petition filed yesterday, Gordon’s company, Boston-based Cape Wind Associates, asked the state Energy Facilities Siting Board to supplant all local permitting for a pair of transmission lines that would connect to the proposed wind farm. The petition includes overturning last month’s denial of the project by the Cape Cod Commission.
The siting board approved the cables two years ago.
The chairman of the siting board, Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Ian Bowles, signed off on a separate environmental review of the entire project in March.
Cape Wind’s attorney, David Rosenzweig, was the attorney for KeySpan when that company sought a similar appeal of a commission denial for a proposed gas pipeline in Yarmouth. The siting board overturned the commission decision in that case and the project is under way.
“The transmission lines are really routine infrastructure,” Cape Wind spokesman Mark Rodgers said yesterday. “There’s been far more information provided about these proposed cables than about any other cables that have been built in Massachusetts waters.”
Bowles must act
The company decided that seeking a comprehensive certificate from the siting board to cover all local and state permits was “the best option,” Rodgers said.
Bowles must decide in the next seven days whether to have a public hearing on Cape Wind’s petition, call for a vote of the nine-member siting board on whether to have a hearing or move directly to consideration of Cape Wind’s requests, according to Timothy Shevlin, executive director of the state Department of Public Utilities.
“This is almost a pre-emptive strike,” Shevlin said of Cape Wind’s request for the comprehensive certificate.
There is no set time frame for when a decision could be made, but in the KeySpan case, the siting board reached a decision within about nine months. Cape Wind said it expected a decision in “several months.”
Cape Wind needs a series of local permits from the towns of Barnstable and Yarmouth, but the company can’t apply for those permits until it gets past the Cape Cod Commission.
If the wind farm is built, Cape Wind’s 115-kilovolt transmission lines would run from an electrical service platform in the middle of 130 wind turbines on Horseshoe Shoal onto land in Yarmouth and connect with the electrical grid at an NStar facility in Barnstable.
If the siting board overrules the commission, court challenges are likely.
“Our legal counsel is telling us that the Cape Cod Commission is not superseded by the Energy Facilities Siting Board,” said Susan Nickerson, executive director of the anti-Cape Wind group Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound.
The outcome of a case pitting the siting board against the commission would be important not only for Cape Wind but also for the future of the commission’s ability to establish jurisdiction over regional projects, Nickerson said.
Cape Wind’s supporters praised the company’s attempts to push forward.
“The Cape Cod Commission has been inconsistent in its practice in terms of how it dealt with another transmission cable it took a pass on in the not so distant past,” said Susan Reid, an attorney with the Conservation Law Foundation.
Reid joined Rodgers in pointing out that the commission chose not to review a similar cable to Nantucket.
And Barbara Hill, executive director of the pro-Cape Wind nonprofit group Clean Power Now, hammered the commission.
“Regrettably, the Cape Cod Commission has become a willing participant in the effort to delay the Cape Wind project to death,” she said in a prepared statement.
By Patrick Cassidy
22 November 2007
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