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Cape Wind, the first offshore wind farm project to be established in the United States, was approved by the Obama administration on April 28, 2010.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the decision at a news conference at the Massachusetts Statehouse, emphasizing the potential for similar wind energy initiatives in the future.
“This will be the first of many projects up and down the Atlantic coast,” Salazar says of the proposed 130 offshore wind turbines to be located in Nantucket Sound, a shallow area of water about five miles from the Massachusetts coastline.
Expected to produce up to 468 megawatts of wind power, the promise of Cape Wind answers an overwhelming energy need. According to President of Cape Wind Associates Jim Gordon, 27 coastal states use 73 percent of the Nation’s electricity, and the construction of Cape Wind will allow these states to obtain this energy from a local, renewable resource.
The wind turbines, 440 feet tall from the surface of the water to the tip of the highest blade, and 16 feet in diameter at the base, are predicted by Cape Wind Associates to reduce approximately 734,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions in New England. Though each turbine will use up to 150 gallons of gear oil, and up to 40,000 gallons of mineral oil for cooling, Cape Wind Associates states that “each year Cape Wind will generate as much electricity as it would take an oil burning power plant burning 113 million gallons of oil to produce.
Despite offering environmental benefits, Cape Wind has received significant criticism since Gordon’s initial proposal nine years ago. Opponents to the project include The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, a federal agency stating that their mission is the “preservation, enhancement and productive use of our Nation’s historic resources,” recommended on April 2 that Salazar reject the Cape Wind project.
Regarding the objections, Gordon says, “…we recognize that there are some local opponents that will not be happy with the secretary’s decision. We would like to reach out to them and ask them to join our country and community in ushering in a new era of energy security and prosperity.”
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Above: if all goes according to plan, wind turbines similar to this one will line Nantucket Sound. Photo from Phault/Flickr.