Cape Wind enters next phase

Cape Wind Associates today was scheduled to begin a new phase of design and engineering work in its efforts to build the country’s first offshore wind farm in Nantucket Sound.
The multimillion-dollar survey project involves analyzing sediment in the Horseshoe Shoal area, where the developer’s 130 wind towers would be built.
The developer, an affiliate of Boston-based Energy Management Inc., has hired Fugro, a Dutch geotechnical engineering firm, to lead the survey work. Massachusetts subcontractors on the project include Fathom Research of New Bedford and ESS Group of Waltham. As many as 50 scientists, engineers and archaeologists will be involved.
The first part of the surveying work will be done from a 34-foot catamaran, and will involve acoustic imaging to map the seabed and the levels of sediment beneath it, Cape Wind spokesman Mark Rodgers said.
“We need a sophisticated, detailed understanding of the seabed conditions to finalize our foundation design,” he said.
Rodgers said the company expects the project designs should be completed by the end of the year, in time for construction to begin next year. He said Cape Wind is still on track to have some or all of the turbines built and connected to the region’s electricity grid by sometime in 2015.
The company still hasn’t decided whether to put its land-based staging operations in New Bedford or Rhode Island. Rodgers said Cape Wind’s preference is New Bedford, but a decision to set up in New Bedford will depend on whether a $35-million terminal project there can be finished in time.
Audra Parker, CEO of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, said Cape Wind’s surveys and related design work are premature, given all the hurdles the project still faces.
Cape Wind received a crucial U.S. Department of Interior approval two years ago. But the project still needs a no-hazard determination from the Federal Aviation Administration. Cape Wind also needs to break free from a thicket of lawsuits filed in a Washington, D.C., federal court by opponents such as Parker’s group, the town of Barnstable and the Aquinnah Wampanoag tribe.
Parker also pointed out that Cape Wind still has not obtained the financing it needs to cover the project’s $2 billion-plus construction costs.
“They are facing insurmountable legal and financial challenges,” Parker said. “The project has no authority to be built.”
Cape Wind has lined up two important buyers for the project’s power – National Grid and NStar – which should facilitate the eventual obtaining of financing.
Rodgers said the project has been thoroughly vetted by state and federal agencies over the course of an entire decade.
“The opponents litigating have an impossible challenge in court in trying to convince the judge there’s an egregious process flaw,” he said.
Reach Jon Chesto at
Original Title: Effort to build wind farm in Nantucket Sound enters new phase
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