Sixteen years after it was first proposed, Cape Wind has officially pulled the plug on its offshore wind farm planned for Massachusetts’ Nantucket Sound.
In a statement, Cape Wind says it has confirmed to the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) that it has ceased development of the project and has filed to terminate its development lease that was issued in 2010. The 468 MW wind farm, which would have comprised 130 Siemens turbines, was proposed by Cape Wind Associates LLC in November 2001.
Over the years, Energy Management Inc. (EMI), the project’s developer, conducted first-of-a-kind environmental and scientific research and studies as it obtained necessary environmental approvals through 17 federal and state agencies – while helping to evolve the regulatory framework for offshore wind in the U.S., says Cape Wind.
However, Cape Wind says that despite strong support from the public and environmental advocates, an opposition group “funded largely by wealthy waterfront homeowners and led by a fossil fuel billionaire” filed more than 25 appeals in a continuous effort to obstruct the construction of the project. In one court decision, according to Cape Wind, Federal Judge Richard Stearns admonished the project opponents’ “vexatious abuse of the judicial process.”
Cape Wind says it prevailed in the legal appeals, but the seemingly endless avenues for delay ran out the clock on the project’s power purchase agreements (PPAs) in 2015. In January of that year, both National Grid and NSTAR terminated their 15-year PPAs for the wind farm after they claimed Cape Wind had missed financing and construction commitments it was required to meet on Dec. 31, 2014. The utilities had agreed to purchase 77.5% of the project’s output: National Grid at 50% and NSTAR at 27.5%.
Just last week, the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, along with a number of other Massachusetts stakeholders, announced its latest appeal in the fight against the project, which the group argued was “not viable, too expensive and opposed by residents, businesses and municipal leaders across Massachusetts,” said Audra Parker, president and CEO of the alliance. The groups sought to appeal BOEM’s recent decision to leave in place the 46-square-mile federal lease for the project.
Now, speaking on Cape Wind’s withdrawal of the lease, Parker says in a statement, “Sixteen years ago, a coalition of business and political leaders, Cape Cod and Island communities, Native Americans and fishermen, pilots and environmental advocates all stood united to say ‘no’ to a massive private development that would have ruined the national treasure that is Nantucket Sound. Today, I am thrilled to say that fight to stop Cape Wind is finally over.
“Cape Wind has announced it has abandoned its misguided plan to develop the sound and is giving up its lease to 46 square miles of seabed,” she continues. “The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound intends to move forward with the strong and determined coalition we have forged to make certain that never again is a private developer given the rights to land that belongs to all of us.”
Jim Gordon, Cape Wind and EMI’s CEO, says in a statement, “During Cape Wind’s development period, we successfully developed over a billion dollars of renewable solar and biomass energy projects, and although we were unable to bring Cape Wind to fruition, we are proud of the catalyzing and pioneering effort we devoted to bringing offshore wind to the United States. Our successful resolution of the multiple appeals established important legal precedents that will hopefully make it easier for other offshore wind developers that follow.”