May 1, 2010

Cape Wind Project Approved by Interior Department

Large scale wind power may come to New England's coast after a decade-long clash of interests in Nantucket Sound. The fight is probably not finished even as Interior Secretary Ken Salazar approved the project on April 28, 2010. Nevertheless, more legal fights are sure to unfold for permitting and other regulatory details of the project. The wrangling over Cape Wind has surely been costly for those who propose to build it and also for those opposed. Perhaps the federal subsidies/tax credits are justified if only to pay for the costs of regulatory and political approval!

This is a big project consisting of 130 very large turbines whose combined output will equate to 75% of the electricity needs of the 225,000 living on Cape Cod and will be the first large-scale offshore wind project in the U.S. When it's built (I won't hold my breath as to when that may happen) we'll know the capital costs and the price of large scale windpower

I favor the project for one simple reason. When it's built, assuming the NIMBYs will not prevail to derail it, we'll have a project large enough to know the true costs of sea-based windpower in the U.S. The project proposes to provide 183 Megawatts of electricity. That's just shy of the proposed 225 megawatt deal for Vermont's purchase of hydro power from HydroQuebec slated to begin in 2012. A comparison of costs will be instructive from two different sources of renewable electricity.

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