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Rep. Upton questions loan for offshore wind

A federal decision to stand behind the Cape Wind offshore wind farm off the Massachusetts coast is a waste of taxpayer dollars, Rep. Fred Upton said.

The Department of Energy said Tuesday it made the first step toward issuing a $150 million loan guarantee to support the construction of an offshore wind farm that would be the first commercial-scale project of its kind in the United States. If built, it would provide 360 megawatts of energy to the region.

Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said the Department of Energy’s record with loan guarantees made the Cape Wind project a concern.

“While renewable energy is a vital component of an all-of-the-above energy strategy, the administration’s backing of Cape Wind is an unnecessary and ill-advised gamble of taxpayer dollars,” he said in a statement.

Solar panel company Solyndra filed for bankruptcy in 2011 despite receiving a $536 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy.

Cape Wind could meet the energy demands of about 75 percent of the area residents.

With the United States lagging behind Europe and China in terms of offshore wind, Kit Kenney, director of energy programs for the National Resources Defense Council, said Cape Wind was a step in the right direction.

“Cape Wind can finally kick-start the nation’s offshore wind industry,” she said in a statement.