Green Light Given to Nation’s First Offshore Wind Project
PennEnvironment Urges PA to Follow Massachusetts’ Lead By Exploring Lake Erie’s Wind Potential
Boston, MA – Today Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick announced the Department of the Interior’s final approval of the Cape Wind offshore wind project off the coast of Massachusetts. The announcement means that by 2012, Massachusetts residents could be the first in the nation to receive energy from offshore wind power.
Cape Wind, originally proposed in 2001, is a 130-turbine offshore wind power project planned for the Nantucket Sound off the coast of Cape Cod. The project will provide Massachusetts residents with enough clean, renewable energy to power 75 percent of the homes on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. PennEnvironment applauded the project, and called for the country to prioritize the development of more offshore wind in coming years.
“Granting the green light for Cape Wind marks a historic first step toward realizing the promise of clean, renewable offshore wind energy—not only off the coast of Massachusetts, but off coasts throughout the country,” said Nathan Willcox, Energy & Clean Air Advocate with PennEnvironment. “The oil spill threatening the Gulf Coast is a sad reminder that wind energy—not more oil drilling—is the way to use our coasts to power our future.”
While applauding today’s announcement, PennEnvironment also called on state and federal officials to learn from and improve upon the lengthy review process that the Cape Wind project underwent. Review of the project has taken nearly a decade as local, state and national officials have worked to ensure that the project is sited with strict adherence to environmental and safety guidelines—guidelines that Cape Wind has fulfilled at every step.
“The thorough review conducted on the Cape Wind project makes it abundantly clear that it passes environmental muster,” said Willcox. “We hope that state and federal officials can take what they have learned from this project and then expedite the deployment of offshore wind while continuing to protect the environment. Our environment and the emerging clean energy economy cannot wait this long for future wind projects to come online.”
When originally proposed, Cape Wind was the largest offshore wind proposal in the country, but after years of delay, many other more ambitious projects along the Atlantic coast began to seem more feasible. In Pennsylvania, legislation (House Bill 2342, Rep. Hornaman) was introduced this spring which would begin the land leasing process for exploring the potential of offshore wind development in Lake Erie.
“While Massachusetts residents could be the first in the nation to receive energy from offshore wind, hopefully Pennsylvania will soon follow by utilizing the wind that blows across Lake Erie,” said Willcox. “The Cape Wind approval process took nearly a decade, but hopefully the lessons learned from that process will allow Pennsylvania and other states with offshore wind potential to move ahead with projects much more quickly.”
At the federal level, PennEnvironment called for improving and streamlining current siting regulations for offshore wind projects in federal waters, to ensure that future projects can come online as quickly as possible to help break America’s dependence on oil and grow the nation’s clean energy economy.