August 26 2002 – The US Army Corps of Engineers, in a key step toward developing the nation’s first offshore wind farm, has approved installing a sea and weather monitoring station off Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
“This authorization to install a scientific monitoring station represents a significant milestone in developing and evaluating our landmark project,” said James Gordon, president of Cape Wind Associates, developer of the wind park, in a statement released earlier this week.
The proposed project includes 170 wind turbines spaced from one-third to one-half mile (0.5-0.8 km) apart on Horseshoe Shoal, more than five miles (8 km) off the southern coast of Cape Cod.
Studies show the area has some of the strongest, most consistent wind in the eastern US. At peak output, the project would generate more than 400 MW of electricity, enough to meet the needs of some 400000 homes on Cape Cod and the nearby islands.
Residents of the resort communities on the Cape, however, have voice mixed feelings about the project.
The residents have, for the most part, said they support using renewable sources of electricity, but they are against placing the wind turbines just off the coast from their beachfront homes.
“The wind park must undergo a separate environmental permitting process, and the monitoring station will provide information essential to that analysis.” Gordon said.
The monitoring station is a single pole outfitted with instruments to collect meteorological and oceanographic data.
The 197-foot (61 m) tall structure, which will cost about $2 million to build and operate for five years, will be located about 11 miles (18 km) off Cape Cod.
Cape Wind will use the data in future wind park design and engineering as well as to support permitting reviews by state and federal regulatory agencies.
The proposed wind park is the subject of a separate environmental review by the Corps of Engineers, which is working with federal and state agencies, including the Massachusetts Office of Environmental Affairs to determine whether the project is in the public interest.
The Cape Wind project is being developed by Energy Management Inc., which built some of the first natural gas-fired power plants in New England following the deregulation of the region’s wholesale power market in 1999.