The Breeze isn’t Blowing as Strongly for Offshore Wind Development These Days
By Amber Rhodes
Cape Wind, America’s first offshore wind farm (www.capewind.org) has been in the works for thirteen years. Thirteen years of data collection, demonstrations for, demonstrations against, US Army Corp of Engineers studies, federal and state reviews, budgeting and financing disagreements, and planning that may have just come to a screeching halt.
Cape Wind has faced numerous challenges as the project developed, but the project’s latest roadblocks (http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2015/01/cape-wind-in-jeopardy-as-two-utilities-seek-to-terminate-power-purchase-agreements) may ultimately prove fatal for America’s first offshore wind farm.
National Grid and NSTAR, who had agreed to purchase nearly 80% of the project’s total production, filed to cancel their contracts due to the fact that the project did not complete financing by December 14, 2014. Over $1 billion in debt financing from a variety of sources was secured, but the project was unable to begin construction by the end of 2014. Developer associates are appealing the decision of the utilities, citing circumstances that were beyond their control including opposition from a variety of different local, state, and nationwide interest groups.
The developer has also recently cancelled contracts to purchase land and facilities for construction and the ISO New England suspended Cape Wind from participating in the wholesale electricity market in mid-January.
None of this bodes well for the development of the wind farm, but events are still unfolding and long-time supporters are making a last-ditch effort to save the project from extinction. No one knows for certain how this will end.
The debacle of Cape Wind (whether or not you are a supporter of wind development) is unfortunately reflective of the typical path taken in the United States when it comes to energy policy and development (remember the Yucca Mountain project?). Millions spent, decades later, time and energy invested, and still no closer to a solution. The wind hasn’t died yet, but it’s not looking good.
It might be wishful thinking on this author’s part, but it’s time for the U.S. to come together to develop projects that are viable, beneficial, environmentally sound, and that provide us with sustainable and affordable energy sources. Yet another project that has the potential to be chalked up to an exercise in futility won’t get us any closer to that goal. Maybe the answer just isn’t blowing in the wind.