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Cape Wind inks staging lease

Developers touted a lease agreement between Cape Wind and the state to use New Bedford for staging and construction of the controversial offshore wind project as a major milestone yesterday, but opponents say it won’t bring the long-delayed plan any closer to fruition.

“It’s just more of the same,” said Audra Parker, president and CEO of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. “They’ve said since 2005 that it will begin construction next year.”

Cape Wind will use South Terminal in New Bedford for its 130-turbine offshore wind project, Gov. Deval Patrick announced yesterday at the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s Wind Technology Testing Center in Charlestown. The agreement is a $4.5 million two-year lease, with two one-year extensions.

Officials said work will begin at the 28-acre facility in January.

“Cape Wind is not just going to serve Massachusetts, it’s going to be built in Massachusetts, and we’re very excited about that,” said Patrick.

Cape Wind initially signed lease options with both the South Coast Marine Commerce Terminal in New Bedford and Quonset Point in Rhode Island. Cape Wind will file paperwork with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on Tuesday to modify its plans, which Parker said could create further delays.

Patrick touted offshore wind as one of the solutions to the roughly 8,300 megawatts worth of power plants going offline.

“The world is changing; there’s no doubt about that, and we need offshore more than ever,” he said.

But Associated Industries of Massachusetts Vice President Robert Rio, who believes the estimated
 $2.5 billion project is too costly to be beneficial to Massachusetts residents, said, “If we’re relying on projects like Cape Wind to solve our energy crisis, we’re in for an expensive run.”

He added that the agreement “doesn’t mean anything,” and will likely have no bearing on the project’s ability to move forward.