When we last checked in on the proposed massive offshore wind farm in the Northeast called Cape Wind, it had gotten federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement approval to begin construction perhaps as early as this fall. That now seems to be up in the air due to a ruling just handed down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia over a FAA decision regarding aviation.
The opinion of the court, according to Associated Press, is that the FAA “didn’t adequately determine whether the planned 130 turbines, each 440 feet tall, would pose a danger to pilots flying by visual flight rules.” The ruling throws another monkey wrench into what has been a very long development progress for America’s first planned offshore wind farm.
Opinions on the ruling vary, of course, depending upon which camp you talk to. The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, one of the primary organizations opposed to where the wind farm is proposed to be placed, hailed the court decision as yet another reason for the project not to happen in its backyard. Audra Parker of the Alliance said in a statement that “it is time for Cape Wind and the Department of Interior to relocate this project to another site that will not only protect Nantucket Sound, but allow properly sited offshore wind development in a timely way.”
Backers, meanwhile, were decidedly disappointed by the ruling. A statement issued by Mark Rodgers, communications director for the wind power project, noted that “the essence of today’s court ruling is that the FAA needs to better explain its Determination of No Hazard. We are confident that after the FAA does this, that their decision will stand and we do not foresee any impact on the project’s schedule in moving forward.”
Cape Wind, according to the latest information, would be an over 400-megawatt capacity wind farm on Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound. Its 130 very tall wind turbines would “be arrayed in a grid pattern of parallel rows. Within a row, the wind turbines will be .34 nautical miles apart (about 6 football fields), the rows will be .54 nautical miles apart (about 9 football fields).”