After years of controversy, proponents of a project that would have been the nation’s first offshore wind development are officially giving up.
On Dec. 1, Cape Wind Associates (CWA) informed the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) that it has ceased the development of its proposed offshore wind farm and is surrendering its federal lease.
CWA proposed the Cape Wind Energy Project in November 2001. After nine years of extensive environmental review and consultations, the BOEM issued CWA the nation’s first commercial lease to construct and operate an offshore wind power facility, in October 2010.
If built, the project would have contained up to 130 3.6-megawatt (MW) wind turbine generators, with a total generating capacity of 468 MW, and an average anticipated output of 174 MW.
The offshore wind farm would have covered approximately 25 square miles in a total lease area of approximately 46 square miles.
It would have provided enough clean energy to power more than 60,000 homes, but the proposal for the Horseshoe Shoal area of Nantucket Sound ignited controversy from the beginning. While a tarnished view figured prominently into their opposition, environmentalists and beachfront property owners also argued the project was a danger to navigation, marine life, birds and the local economy. The project survived lawsuits and regulatory hurdles, but ultimately, it could not make it to the finish line.
In January 2015, two power purchases ended their contracts to buy power from the turbines, and in 2016, the state Energy Facilities Siting Board declined to extend permits for the project that had originally been issued in 2009.