Cape Wind Associates announced plans yesterday to buy a Falmouth marina to serve as its operations headquarters – a major milestone for a plan a decade in the making – but a longtime opponent said the offshore wind project will never get off the ground.
Company officials would not disclose the price of East Marine, citing a confidentiality agreement, but said the marina’s warehouse, boat slips and close proximity to academic institutions were reasons for the purchase and sales agreement they signed this week.
The operations center on a key stretch of Falmouth’s bustling, main harbor would employee 50 people to run and maintain the 130 massive wind turbines the company intends to erect out on Nantucket Sound. But the final sale is contingent on Cape Wind closing financing on the $2.5 billion project, something they said they expect to do next year. Construction would begin in 2014, and the turbines would begin to operate the following year.
“This requires a vision and a willingness to take a risk to make this happen,’’ said Jim Gordon, the company’s president. “We have a lot of confidence we will finance this project.”
But Audra Parker, president of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, called Cape Wind’s plan to purchase East Marine an “expensive gamble” and dismissed the jobs the company claims it would create.
“Cape Wind’s 50 jobs would come at the expense of thousands of jobs which would be lost in Massachusetts due to higher electricity prices in a state that already pays the third- or fourth-highest rates in the nation,” Parker said. “Fortunately, with five federal lawsuits facing Cape Wind, this project has no real chance of ever being built.”
The alliance filed an appeal Wednesday challenging the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval last week of the project, arguing that it would endanger small, low-flying aircraft.
Last week’s approval came amid a congressional investigation by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the Committee on Government Reform, and John Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
Earlier this month, Issa revealed that President Obama was personally briefed on Cape Wind’s attempt to score a $2 billion federal loan. The congressman cited an email in which Jonathan Silver, the official in charge of the loan program, urged the Department of Energy to “get it done” and said it was “important” to the president.
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