Feds ok offshore wind farm near Cape Cod

After nine years of wrangling and disagreement about whether to build a wind farm offshore near Cape Cod, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has just announced approval for the project --  130 turbines in Nantucket Sound.

Meanwhile, both New Jersey and Delaware are moving ahead with plans for wind farms off their beaches. New Jersey ponied up starter money for three companies, including a consortium of fishermen who want to try a new kind of offshore harvesting.  They've begun putting up meteorological towers that will give them more precise information about the wind speeds and reliability at the "hub height" of the turbines. 

Offshore wind is touted as a promising source of renewable energy on the Atlantic Coast, where winds are strong and the continental shelf slopes gradually enough to allow towers to be built far offshore, but still in relatively shallow water.  The Pacific Coast, which drops off more steeply, is considered to be a more promising site for wave power. Another benefit supporters cite is the proximity of the power source to population centers along the coast, which makes transmission easier.

According to the Associated Press: Cape Wind says it can generate power by 2012 and aims to eventually supply three-quarters of the power on Cape Cod, which has about 225,000 residents. Cape Wind officials say it will provide green jobs and a reliable domestic energy source, while offshore wind advocates are hoping it can jump-start the U.S.

Continuing with the report: But Cape Wind met with heavy resistance from people who wanted it moved out of the sound, and its opponents are expected to continue to try to derail the project in court, AP reported.  Critics say the project endangers wildlife and air and sea traffic, while marring historic vistas. The late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy fought Cape Wind, calling it a special interest giveaway. The wind farm would be visible from the Kennedy family compound in Hyannisport.