August 16, 2012

FAA approves wind farm off Cape Cod

By JENNIFER LEVITZ | The Wall Street Journal | 15 August 2012

The Federal Aviation Administration gave its stamp of approval Wednesday to a long-brewing plan to build the nation’s first offshore wind farm off Cape Cod in Massachusetts, saying the turbines wouldn’t interfere with air navigation.

The decision was a victory for Energy Management Inc., the developer of the project, known as Cape Wind. The project suffered a setback in October when a federal appeals court said the FAA’s previous review was inadequate.

In its latest ruling in favor of Cape Wind, the FAA said its study found that the proposed 130 wind turbines had “no effect on aeronautical operations.”

Energy Management said the FAA approval means it has received all necessary regulatory permits to proceed with the project, first proposed a decade ago. The developer aims to begin construction next year in a shallow, 25-square-mile part of Nantucket Sound, a body of water surrounded by Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. The project is now in the financing stage, Energy Management said.

“Cape Wind is now closer to creating the public benefits of cleaner air, greater energy independence and new jobs,” Mark Rodgers, an Energy Management spokesman, said in a news release.

The project still faces hurdles: Its opponents have pending lawsuits in federal court, citing environmental, safety, and historical concerns.

Opponents expressed anger at the latest FAA decision, and said the agency’s approval could be appealed again.

“Today’s Federal Aviation Administration ruling shows a complete and total disregard for public safety,” the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, a group opposed to Cape Wind, said. The group repeated its argument that by approving Cape Wind, the FAA was acting under “political pressure.” The Obama administration has said it wants to increase renewable energy projects.

Cape Wind’s developer said Wednesday that “this is the fourth ‘Determination of No Hazard’ the project has received from the FAA since the agency began its review of the project in 2002” and that the agency’s review and approvals “span back to the Bush Administration.”

—Ryan Tracy contributed to this article.

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