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Brandi Colander’s Blog

Cape Wind in Massachusetts Gets Green Light to Plug Clean Energy into National Grid

Brandi Colander

Posted November 22, 2010

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Today, Massachusetts decided that it is cost-effective for National Grid to purchase power from Cape Wind, once construction is complete on what is anticipated to be the first utility-scale offshore wind farm in America. This decision is a green light from the state Department of Public Utilities to allow American homes and businesses to plug into the clean energy that will be generated by Cape Wind.

After a decade-long effort, Cape Wind won federal approval in March, allowing 130 wind turbines to operate in Nantucket Sound, generating domestic clean renewable energy. Offshore wind has experienced many hurdles in the United States. All projects must conduct a proper assessment of the resource, environmental impacts, site assessment, endure the permitting process and of course connect to the grid, this all builds up to providing the power harnessed on our coasts and distributing it to our homes. Massachusetts’ approval of Cape Wind’s power purchase agreement (PPA) with National Grid today is a tremendous step forward for offshore wind in the United States!

Today’s decision helps ensure Cape Wind can create clean American energy in the near future, reducing our dependence on foreign fuel and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as preventing black outs and enhancing electricity system reliability and  promoting fuel diversity.  When it’s complete, this offshore wind farm will start spinning renewable, pollution-free energy for thousands of Massachusetts homes and businesses.

NRDC has been a strong supporter of the Cape Wind project since the beginning, and intervened with the Conservation Law Foundation, Union of Concerned Scientists and Clean Power Now in the legal contract review process for the National Grid purchase, filing briefs in favor of the agreement. Securing this long-term agreement calls for National Grid to purchase Cape Wind’s power for 2 cents less per kilowatt-hour than originally proposed. The wind farm is expected to sell the remaining power and secure additional financing at the beginning of 2011.

Construction for Cape Wind is anticipated late 2011 or early 2012, nearly 10 years since its creation was initiated. Careful siting for offshore wind projects like this is critical—but we must enhance the efficiency of the process so that it is no longer easier to get approval for traditional, dirty power plants than the necessary clean, renewable energy sources this country needs -- and can provide – now more than ever. 

Massachusetts made history today: Cape Wind is one step closer to providing this country with a real clean energy alternative. Click here to view the 374 page final order  from the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities.

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