As Vineyard Wind moves forward with negotiations to build a wind farm south of the Vineyard, the last symbol of the failed Cape Wind project may soon come down.
Cape Wind has applied for a permit to dismantle its nearly 200-foot meteorological tower on Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound, a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers confirmed last week.
“The Corps is currently reviewing the permit application and anticipates a permit decision no later than mid-June 2018,” said Christine Jacek from the Corps regulatory division in an email to the Gazette.
If the permit is approved, Cape Wind Associates will facilitate removal of the tower over an anticipated 22 days. Ms. Jacek said the plan is to finish sometime in July.
The weather monitoring tower became operational in 2003, the first built structure of what Cape Wind hoped would become the first offshore wind farm in the United States.
The tower and the wind farm both faced heavy criticism from fishermen, waterfront landowners and environmental groups on the Cape and Islands.
Cape Wind officially surrendered its lease last year. Audra Parker, president and chief officer of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, a Cape-based group that battled the project both in and out of court for years, said removal of the tower is significant.
“It’s an important symbol of the ultimate defeat of Cape Wind,” she said. “It allows us to focus 100 per cent on our ultimate mission of securing permanent protection of Nantucket Sound so it’s never threatened again by industrial development.”
She said the Army Corps is responsible for the tower because it issued the permit before permitting authority in federal waters moved to the Department of the Interior in 2005. The Interior Department agreed to allow Cape Wind to surrender its lease last year, but the Army Corps permit lingered until it expired last October.
During the project, Patriot Party Boats owner Pete Tietje would ferry over Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution researchers to maintain the tower and collect data. He said the tower also soon found another use as a magnet for sea bass and bluefish.
“The structure attracts fish,” said Mr. Tietje. “If you were to fish right next to one of the pillars supporting the tower, you might catch a sea bass.”
Now a new turbine project from Vineyard Wind aims to succeed where Cape Wind could not, using a much smaller structure to gather weather information. Last month Vineyard Wind won the right to negotiate a key 20-year state contract to build an 800-megawatt wind farm south of Martha’s Vineyard.
The group released a data collection buoy last week about 17 miles south of Wasque Point, according to spokesman Scott Farmelant.
Mr. Farmelant said the solar-powered buoy rises just over 11 feet out of the water and will be used to collect data such as wind speed, wave height and ocean temperatures. Vineyard Wind sent out an email notice to mariners and fishermen last week providing more information about the buoy’s location and survey area. Mr. Farmelant said the buoy will stay in the water for a few months.
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