By the Numbers: Cape Wind Comes Online 130 Offshore Wind Turbines Are Ready to Rise in Nantucket Sound
130. That’s how many offshore wind turbines will be sited over a 24-square-mile grid on Nantucket Sound’s Horseshoe Shoal about five miles south of Hyannis, Massachusetts. Known as Cape Wind, the offshore wind farm is in its final victory lap after a decade of political, legal and regulatory wrangling, and barges just off the coast of Cape Cod are gathering ocean floor data to guide construction of the project. In August 2012, Cape Wind received a final permit to proceed after the Federal Aviation Administration determined that the project wouldn’t be a threat to area aviation. The turbines will rise 440 feet above the water and will be positioned so vessels can pass safely through the water-based wind farm.
Primary opposition to the project came from the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, an advocacy group formed in 2001 to thwart Cape Wind construction. The group has been supported by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and the late Senator Ted Kennedy whose family owns properties on Nantucket Sound.
Cape Wind is a project of Energy Management Inc., a Boston-based energy firm. When construction is complete, it is expected to generate about three-quarters of the electricity needed by Cape Cod and the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. The offshore wind farm is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 734,000 tons per year, according to the company. It’s also expected to generate 150 permanent jobs. Cape Wind announced in August 2012 it was purchasing a marina in Falmouth, Massachusetts, to serve as its maintenance base while New Bedford, Massachusetts, will serve as the turbine assembly site. Hy-Line Cruises, initially a foe of the turbine project, will operate a Cape Wind visitor center in Hyannis and offer eco-tours of the site.
The painful birth of Cape Wind was chronicled in the 2008 book, Cape Wind: Money, Celebrity, Class, Politics and the Battle for Our Energy Future (PublicAffairs) by Wendy Williams and Robert Whitcomb. Comedian John Stewart of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show satirized the wind project in a 2007 segment that included a mini wind turbine rising out of the water on a crowded Cape Cod beach accompanied by the theme from Jaws.
Cape Wind has been the subject of two documentary films, Wind Over Water in 2003 and Cape Spin! An American Power Struggle, a 2011 release which captured the blistering fight between “wind-huggers” and their opponents.
The wind farm is expected to be operational in 2015 and has received a lease to operate for 25 years from the U.S. Department of the Interior.