Cape Wind opponents scored a key victory today when a federal appeals court overturned the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval of the offshore energy project.
“It’s a key victory and an important step toward Cape Wind’s ultimate failure,” said Audra Parker, president of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. “With this decision, Cape Wind can’t begin construction or move forward.”
The opposition group and the town of Barnstable had argued that Cape Wind’s 440-foot-tall steel turbines, rotating in Nantucket Sound, would pose a danger to planes flying to and from Barnstable Municipal Airport.
The Boston-based developer of Cape Wind downplayed the appeals court decision, saying it’s a matter of the FAA clarifying its position on the project.
“The FAA has reviewed Cape Wind for eight years and repeatedly determined that Cape Wind did not pose a hazard to air navigation,” Cape Wind spokesman Mark Rodgers said in a statement. “The essence of today’s court ruling is that the FAA needs to better explain its Determination of No Hazard ruling. We are confident that after the FAA has done this that their decision will stand and we do not foresee any impact on the project’s schedule in moving forward.”
The FAA awaits Cape Wind’s next move.
“They would have to make a decision to re-file the application to conduct a study for the turbines,” said FAA spokesman Jim Peters. “It has to be restudied.”
The FAA ruling, issued in May 2010, was factored into U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s approval of a lease for Cape Wind’s operation in federal waters.
The Barnstable Municipal Airport Commission was not immediately available for comment.
Cape Wind won FAA approval after agreeing to pay at least $15 million toward a new radar system that would keep better track of planes flying over the offshore wind farm.
The estimated $2.5 billion renewable energy project calls for 130 turbines to generate electricity for the region’s power grid. Cape Wind has lined up National Grid to buy half of the project’s power but has yet to find other buyers. The project also has struggled to secure financing.
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