Cape Wind Completes Federal Permitting Process

The 130-turbine Cape Wind offshore wind farm proposed for construction on Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound, Mass., on Friday received two key approvals—from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers—completing its federal permitting process.

After reviewing the Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision on the facility owned by Cape Wind LLC, the U.S. Army Corps, New England District made its determination under Section 10/Section 404 jurisdiction to issue a Corps permit for the proposal. A permit issued under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act allows facilities to work in navigable waters of the U.S.

Cape Wind said on Friday that the EPA’s approval came 24 hours after the Corps approval. In 2009, Cape Wind completed its state and local permitting. Those approvals were later upheld by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE)—an arm of the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and the lead federal agency in the environmental review—issued its record of decision in April 2010 favoring the project. And in November, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities approved a 15-year power purchase agreement that has National Grid buying 50% of Cape Wind’s energy, capacity, and renewable energy credits.

“With the permitting process complete, and with the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities recent approval of Cape Wind’s power purchase contract with National Grid, Cape Wind’s focus turns to securing project finance,” the company said in a statement on Friday.

On Dec. 28, meanwhile, BOEMRE and Massachusetts announced a request for interest (RFI) to determine the level of interest in further future development offshore. The RFI area off the coast of Massachusetts is approximately 12 nautical miles (nm) south of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, and it extends approximately 31 nm seaward. The area is approximately 2,224 square nm and contains 321 whole lease blocks and 163 partial blocks on the Outer Continental Shelf. Granting of the permit is the initial step under the DOI’s "Smart from the Start" renewable energy initiative announced in November. The goal is to have BOEMRE identify priority "wind energy areas" for potential development. Public comment is due February 28, 2011.

Sources: Cape Wind, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, EPA, BOEMRE

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