Construction on the Cape Wind offshore wind power project could start as early as the fall, according to an announcement Tuesday by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.
The announcement at the Charlestown Navy Yard said the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement has approved a construction and operations plan for the 468-megawatt project. The plan is a prerequisite for the project, which would be built off Nantucket Sound and would be the country’s first major offshore wind farm.
The timeframe reported by the developer, Boston-based Cape Wind Associates, suggest the construction could begin in the fall, according to the announcement.
The project, however, lacks financing and must find a buyer for the remaining 50 percent of its power output. Utility National Grid has agreed to buy half of Cape Wind’s power at the first-year rate of 18.7 cents per kilowatt-hour, a rate which was approved by the state Department of Public Utilities last November.
Cape Wind also faces various legal challenges, including appeals by several opponents of the power rate and an appeal with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of the plan to use a site in New Bedford as a staging area.
Meanwhile, Gov. Deval Patrick on Tuesday said his administration has requested that the federal government refine the area being considered for offshore wind energy development, to remove areas identified as vital to the state’s fishing industry. The request would remove from the federal leasing process about half of a 3,000-square-mile area in federal waters south of Massachusetts previously identified for wind power development, according to Patrick’s announcement.
There was no indication the request would affect the Cape Wind project.
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