Offshore Wind Arrives Interior Secretary Approves Controversial Cape Wind Project

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced in late April the approval of the $1 billion Cape Wind project, the nation’s first offshore wind farm, in Nantucket Sound off the coast of Cape Cod. Pat Parenteau, a professor at Vermont Law School, says that despite opposition, the project is a necessary step forward.

“The threats to the oceans from climate change are so much more overwhelming than the problems that the Cape Wind energy project presents,” Parenteau says.

According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, the project will power 75% of the electricity needed for Nantucket Island, Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod, and will create hundreds of construction jobs. And it promises to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 700,000 tons annually. In May, the National Grid entered into a landmark contract with Cape Wind to buy 50% of its output.

Kristina Johnson, deputy press secretary for the Sierra Club, says that fossil fuel catastrophes like the offshore oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico drive home the need for clean energy projects.

“Cape Wind has undergone a more thorough environmental review than any other project like it,” Johnson says.

The project is slated to begin construction in late 2010.