Yarmouth selectmen have terminated the town’s contract with Cape Wind, effectively confirming that, as far as the town is concerned, the offshore wind energy project is dead.
Yarmouth selectmen and Cape Wind in 2003 entered into a Host Community Agreement, amended in 2007, in which Cape Wind was granted access to a portion of Englewood Beach in West Yarmouth, “as the transmission site for power to be generated in Nantucket Sound.”
Since then, Cape Wind has been buffeted by opponents and regulatory delays and, while it still exists as a concept, it is essentially moribund. Cape Wind project suffered a serious setback in 2015 when National Grid and NStar, backed out of their power deal with the turbine operation. At that time, Cape Wind officials maintained that the project was not dead and that Cape Wind was planning other projects, based on the Legislature’s calls for more green energy and the imminent closure of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth.
On July 1, 2013, Cape Wind announced it had signed a $15 million contract with Falmouth-based Lawrence-Lynch Corp., “to provide the upland construction work required to bury Cape Wind’s electric cables. Lawrence-Lynch Corp. will also be responsible for providing a conduit for connecting the buried electric cables on land to the submerged ocean submarine cables by using a ‘directional drill’ from the landfall point in West Yarmouth out to a temporary cofferdam they will construct in Lewis Bay.”
But none of that has materialized. In a memo dated June 20, Yarmouth Town Administrator Daniel Knapik told the board of selectmen that since Cape Wind, “has not started the project and is not in commercial operation at this time,” that the town’s lawyers have sent a letter to Cape Wind cancelling the deal.
The letter, from Yarmouth’s attorney Jason Talerman, says in part: “This termination is based on the failure of Cape Wind Associates, LLC, to commence construction of the Cape Wind project in a reasonably timely manner. Based upon all available information, the project, as proposed, is not going forward; and based upon filings in the office of the Massachusetts Secretary of State, Cape Wind, LLC, is no longer an active corporate entity.”
While Cape Wind appears to be a non-starter, just beyond Martha’s Vineyard three possible wind farms, with turbines over 500 feet high, might be operating within a decade.
This newest generation of turbines can produce 6 megawatts of power – about three times as much as each of Cape Wind’s original 130 turbines would have produced.
Richard Andre of Vineyard Power, an electricity cooperative, said in March his proposed development would be far more efficient than what Cape Wind planned. “When Cape Wind was proposed each turbine was 2 to 3 megawatts. Now they’re six so you need half the turbines to produce the same amount of electricity,” Andre told a forum held by the Fishing Alliance in Chatham.
Cape Wind had upgraded to 3.6-megawatt turbines in its last proposal.
Vineyard Power is an electricity cooperative partnered with Vineyard Wind, a Danish company that is eligible to bid when Massachusetts solicits bids for an unknown number megawatts later this year. It’s proposed site is farther offshore than Cape Wind’s
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