Offshore wind company Cape Wind has signed a key contract for the construction of its controversial turbines, but critics say the contract is just a ploy to qualify for a crucial federal tax credit before the end of the year.
“This is smoke and mirrors and nothing more,” said Cape Wind opponent Audra Parker, president and CEO of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. “It’s a desperate attempt to try to qualify for the investment tax credit, which expires in a week.”
That federal tax credit requires the Cape Wind project to either begin construction or incur 5 percent of the $2.6 billion total the wind farm is expected to cost. Cape Wind spokesman Mark Rodgers said yesterday the project should qualify for the tax credit by accruing the $130 million necessary to hit the cost threshold.
The contract, signed with Siemens, will pay the German engineering company to construct and service 130 wind turbines, as well as build an offshore substation to send electricity to land.
Rodgers said the contract was the result of prolonged negotiations, and said the timing of the announcement was not related to the expiration of the federal tax credit.
He declined to say if Cape Wind would be eligible for the tax credit without the cost of the contract. The tax credit, if awarded, could pay for 30 percent of construction costs.
“This is purely a tax play for Cape Wind,” said Bob Rio, senior vice president of Associated Industries of Massachusetts. “What I think they are trying to do is get up to the 5 percent.”
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