Cape Cod Wind Farm: Where and What
The Cape Wind project has cleared some regulatory and legal hurdles, but faces several more. At least 17 federal, state, regional, and local public agencies could have a say in the controversial project's status.
The next hurdle Cape Wind must clear is the Cape Cod Commission. That agency is currently studying the regional impact of the wind project. It has authority over state waters and property where the transmission lines would be buried under the sea floor and under the ground. No turbines would be located in state waters.
This past Monday, a sub-committee voted to recommend that the full commission deny permits for the transmission lines. The full commission has until October 21 to issue its report.
Cape Wind could appeal a negative decision to the state's Energy Facilities Siting Board. The siting board has already approved the transmission line plan, and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in favor of Cape Wind when the siting board's decision was challenged in court.
In March of this year, after a long review, the Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs judged the project's environmental impact statement adequate. That step cleared the way for the federal and regional permitting process.
The Army Corps of Engineers studied the proposal for several years, but jurisdiction was removed from that agency with the passage of the federal Energy Policy Act of 2005. Federal jurisdiction over the project now lies with the Department of Interior's Minerals Management Service. That agency's draft report has been delayed, but is nearly finished and expected to be released sometime in October or November. Its final report is due in 2008.
Given the history of the regulatory process, it is probable that the losing side in many of these regulatory decisions will challenge the results in court.
The long process has sparked much passion among those who favor and those who oppose the Cape Wind project. In the court of public opinion, it has sometimes taken on the nature of "Telephone," the children's game where facts get burnished, exaggerated, and misunderstood as they are passed along.
Here are some basic facts about the project that are not disputed by either side:
Located over a 24-square-mile area of federal waters known as Horseshoe Shoals
130 wind turbines, spaced 600-900 yards apart.
9 miles from Edgartown, 9.3 miles from Oak Bluffs.
Turbines clearly visible from the Island between West Chop and Wasque Point on Chappaquiddick.
Turbine tower, 246 feet above sea level.
Point of highest turbine blade, 440 feet above sea level.
Point of lowest turbine blade, 75 feet above sea level.
Each turbine supported by a single pile, driven 80 feet into the sea floor, and filled with sediment.
All transmission cables buried under ground and sea floor to a minimum depth of six feet.
Rectangular Electric Service Platform, 200 feet long, 100 feet wide, 100 feet high.
Produces 420 megawatts of power at peak operation.
Produces 182 megawatts at average level of operation
At any one time, Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket use 230 megawatts, on average.