The United States is taking another step forward in the development of a clean, renewable, and abundant energy resource – wind power. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced on April 28 approval of the one billion dollar Cape Wind renewable energy project in Nantucket Sound, Massachusetts, on the outer U.S. continental shelf.
Speaking at Massachusetts's historic State House in Boston, Secretary Salazar noted, "With this decision we are beginning a new direction in our Nation's energy future, ushering in America's first offshore wind energy facility and opening a new chapter in the history of this region."
The Cape Wind project would be the first wind farm on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf, generating enough power to meet seventy-five percent of the electricity demand for Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket Island combined. The project would create several hundred construction jobs and one of the largest greenhouse gas reduction initiatives in the United States, cutting carbon dioxide emissions from conventional power plants by 700,000 tons annually. That is equivalent to removing 175,000 cars from the road a year.
As part of the project, the wind farm developer must agree to additional binding measures to minimize the potential adverse impacts of construction and operation of the facility.
A number of similar projects have been proposed for other northeast coastal states, positioning the region to tap one million megawatts of offshore Atlantic wind energy potential, which could displace older, inefficient fossil-fuel generating plants, helping significantly to reducing greenhouse gas emission.
The Cape Wind Associates facility would occupy a twenty-five-square-mile section of Nantucket Sound and generate a maximum electric output of 468 megawatts with an average anticipated output of 182 megawatts. At average expected production, Cape Wind could produce enough energy to power more than twenty-thousand homes in Massachusetts. The Horseshoe Shoal area, home to the new facility, lies outside shipping channels, ferry routes and aviation flight paths but is adjacent to power-consuming coastal communities. One-fifth of the offshore wind energy potential of the U.S. East Coast is located off the coast of New England, and Nantucket Sound receives strong steady Atlantic winds year round.
The United States is committed to developing wind and other clean, renewable and safe energy resources to help America and the world meet the energy and climate challenges of the 21st century.