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With Cape Wind’s demise, Alliance vows ‘never again’

Now that Cape Wind is officially kaput, the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound has a new rallying cry: Never again.

“Sixteen years ago a coalition of business and political leaders, Cape Cod and Island communities, Native Americans and fishermen, pilots and environmental advocates – all stood united to say ‘no’ to a massive private development that would have ruined the national treasure that is Nantucket Sound,” a statement from the alliance said on Dec. 1, shortly after Cape Wind revealed it had ceased development of its proposed offshore wind farm project in the Sound.

“Today, I am thrilled to say that fight to stop Cape Wind is finally over,” said Audra Parker, president of the alliance.

“Cape Wind has announced it has abandoned its misguided plan to develop the Sound and is giving up its lease to 46-square miles of seabed. The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound intends to move forward with the strong and determined coalition we have forged to make certain that never again is a private developer given the rights to land that belongs to all of us.”

The controversial Cape Wind proposal to build 130 turbines in the Sound, within sight of the Cape coast on a clear day, was revealed in 2001 and in the years that followed was reviewed by many local, state and federal agencies.

The project suffered hefty blows when Eversource and National Grid in 2015 terminated their contracts to buy power from Cape Wind. Without those deals in place, the state Energy Facilities Siting Board last year said it wouldn’t extend permits it had issued seven years earlier.

However, renewable energy supporters take heart: There’s another project on the horizon that plans to install up to three wind farms about 14 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard in the next 10 years.

This newest generation of turbines stands more than 500 feet high and can produce 6 megawatts of power – about three times as much as each of Cape Wind’s original 130 turbines would’ve produced.

It’s Vineyard Power, a nonprofit electricity cooperative with a goal to “make the Vineyard carbon neutral by 2050.” It has partnered with Vineyard Wind, which is owned by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Avangrid Renewables.

“Vineyard Power is a co-op representing 5,000 residents on the Vineyard,” its spokesman Richard Andre explained at a presentation early this year before the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance.

“We got involved in 2009 as a response to Cape Wind and formed the cooperative. The Department of the Interior intends to lease the ocean for wind development off Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket,” he said.

Vineyard Wind said its federal permitting process is expected to continue through 2019. It expects construction to begin in 2020, and the farm could be operational in 2022 or 2033.