With the nation still reeling from the recent Gulf Coast oil disaster, many Americans are wishing the United States would lessen its dependency on fossil fuel sources. Thankfully the technology and initiative to build renewable energy systems are in place, meaning you can forget offshore drilling for a moment and focus instead on a new kind of offshore energy—wind farms.
After settling a series of legal battles this week, Massachusetts-based Energy Management is set to begin construction on Cape Wind, the United States’ first offshore wind farm. The project will construct 130 wind turbines in Nantucket Sound’s Horseshoe Shoal, miles from the nearest shore, and is expected to produce 420 megawatts of energy, enough to provide almost 75 percent of the electricity needs for Cape Cod and the Islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.
While the Cape Wind project has been in the works for years, legal troubles prohibited Energy Management from beginning construction. After several local authorities denied Cape Wind permission to run transmission lines through their jurisdiction in 2007, the project’s leaders took their case a step higher to the state Energy Facility Siting Board, which granted Cape Wind a single “composite permit” in lieu of obtaining both local and state permits. The local authorities challenged the state board’s authority and took their case to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. The court voted in favor of the Cape Wind project, paving the way for construction to begin.
Construction on the Cape Wind project is expected to create 1,000 green construction jobs, while electricity produced by Cape Wind is expected to power 223,776 homes, save New England more than $800 million in energy costs over the next two decades and avoid almost 734,000 greenhouse gas emissions.