The statements and views expressed in the postings on the Ocean & Offshore Energy Projects and Policy Blog are my own and do not reflect those of Nixon Peabody LLP. This Blog does not provide specific legal advice. Reading or visiting this Blog does not create an attorney client relationship. This Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Secretary Salazar Announces Approval of Cape Wind's Construction and Operations Plan!

At 10:30am on April 19, 2011, Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that Cape Wind's Construction and Operations plan has been approved. Secretary Salazar made the announcement at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston and was accompanied by Jim Gordon, the President and CEO of Cape Wind, LLC and Massachussetts governmental representatives.

The Department of the Interior posted the following >press release at the DOI website:

WASHINGTON, DC – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) has approved a Construction and Operations Plan (COP) submitted for the Cape Wind Energy Project, which is required before construction may begin on the generation facility planned in Nantucket Sound. The timeframe reported in the COP submitted by Cape Wind Associates suggests that construction of the nation’s first offshore wind farm could begin as early as the fall.

“The Department has taken extraordinary steps to fully evaluate Cape Wind’s potential impacts on environmental and cultural resources of Nantucket Sound,” said Secretary Salazar. “By signing the Construction and Operations Plan today, we are even closer towards ushering in our Nation’s first offshore wind energy facility while creating jobs.”

“After a thorough review of environmental impacts, we are confident that this offshore commercial wind project – the first in the nation – can move forward. This will accelerate interest in the renewable energy sector generally and the offshore wind sector specifically, and spur innovation and investment in our nation’s energy infrastructure,” said BOEMRE Director Michael R. Bromwich.

"With today's announcement by Secretary Salazar, we are one step closer to benefiting from the clean energy, green jobs and long-term economic benefits that will result from creating the nation's first offshore wind farm," said Governor Deval Patrick. "States up and down the East Coast are now looking to Massachusetts with envy as we launch this brand new American industry." ?

The proposed action, including its size and location, remain substantially the same as analyzed in the Cape Wind Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) that was published in January 2009. The Cape Wind energy project calls for 130 3.6± megawatt wind turbine generators, each with a maximum blade height of 440 feet, to be arranged in a grid pattern on the OCS in Nantucket Sound, offshore Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket Island.

As part of its evaluation of the COP, the bureau conducted an Environmental Assessment (EA) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to determine whether there were any significant impacts that had not been discussed in the 2009 FEIS or other environmental assessments, and concluded that all impacts had been properly examined. BOEMRE also issued a Record of Decision for the COP approval, which details the terms and conditions that Cape Wind Associates will need to follow these terms and conditions are in addition to those established in the lease agreement.

A notice about the preparation of an EA was posted on the BOEMRE website in February which initiated a comment period and provided an opportunity for public input. BOEMRE received and considered approximately 160 comments during the comment period. Issues considered in the EA include: additional surveys and sampling, conflicts with aviation traffic and fishing use, emergency response, migratory birds, microclimate, oil within wind turbine generators, permits issued by other federal agencies and consultations with other agencies.

For more information about the Cape Wind energy project, including the COP, previous environmental reviews, Record of Decision, lease and related documents, please visit: http://www.boemre.gov/offshore/RenewableEnergy/CapeWind.htm.


  1. I am a little confused about why Salazar made such a big deal of this announcement. It has me wondering if he's worried about Cape Wind's difficulty in finding a buyer for the second half of its power. Approving the project was such a monumental step that drew a lot of attention and now the company needs to prove its economically viable by selling the rest of it's power or it makes DOI look bad.

  2. On the subject of your above comment, could you please expand on why half of the power lacks a buyer? Are the economics of purchasing renewable energy not favourable? Are the economics of the project unfavourable (does this actually have any effect on the purchase from the utility point of view)? I imagine that there is no pressing need for the utilities to purchase the power in terms of an obligation to supply a percentage of their electricity from renewable sources. Thanks!

    Dave Yong (connected on Linkedin)