Concerns have been raised about the uncertain regulatory envrionment for offshore wind projects. Since the federal government has never reviewed an offshore wind proposal, how long would it take to formulate guidelines, let alone actually offer findings?
Not so long, as it turns out. The Boston Globe has the story:
The nation's first proposed offshore wind-energy project cleared its most formidable hurdle yesterday as the US Minerals Management Service declared that the wind farm off Cape Cod would have little lasting impact on wildlife, navigation, and tourism.
The draft Environmental Impact Statement finds that the impacts of the proposal to be mostly "negligible" or "minor," with an occassional "moderate" thrown in. In no particular, did the MMS find that the project would have a "major" impact. Volume I of the report runs to 712 pages and covers 120 categories of potential impact during construction and operation of the wind farm. The Cape Wind project is similar in scale to the Bluewater Wind proposal, with 130 turbines instead of 150. As for those who worry about the lifespan of the equipment in the open water, the report points out (on page E-2) that turbines might last longer than comparable land based equipment:
The wind turbine generators have a stated design life span of twenty years. However, this estimate is based on experience generated from land-based machines which are subject to higher levels of turbulence and arguably experience greater wear and tear than can be expected offshore where winds are less turbulent. It is possible that the proposed action could be operational beyond the minimum design life of twenty years.
By the way, Mitt Romney opposed the project while he was still governor of Massachusetts. The MMS is accepting public comments through March 20 and is expected to issue a final decision on the project by early next year.