United States

United States

Cape Wind buys O&M marina to demonstrate project viability

Opposition group files appeal in effort to block construction

Cape Wind will buy a marina in Falmouth, Massachusetts to serve as the operations and maintenance (O&M) base for its proposed offshore wind project in Nantucket Sound. Coinciding with the announcement came news that a group opposing Cape Wind is appealing against its approval by regulators.

The developer has agreed to buy East Marine in Falmouth Harbor. The facility will employ 50 people, with training expected to begin in 2014, in time for the 468MW wind farm’s commissioning in 2015.

"We bought the marina because we want to … show the financial community that not only have we put everything together on the construction side, we also have the operations and maintenance side covered," said Cape Wind chief executive Jim Gordon.

"We have a lot of confidence that we are going to be able to finance this project," said Gordon, adding that completion of project financing is planned for around the second quarter of next year.

The marina has a large storage warehouse and boat slips capable of accommodating service vessels. Falmouth’s proximity to several academic institutions with marine science and engineering resources was also a factor in Cape Wind's choice.

Meanwhile, a group opposed to Cape Wind has filed a motion with the US Court of Appeals against the Federal Aviation Administration’s recent determination that the project represents "no hazard" to local aviation.

This is not the first time that The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound (APNS) has appealed against the FAA’s position on Cape Wind. Last October, the Court of Appeals ruled in APNS’ favour, forcing the FAA to revisit its determination. This prompted the FAA’s fourth decision in favour of Cape Wind, announced earlier this month.

Cape Wind’s opponents maintain that the latest FAA decision does not address the issues that sparked their previous appeal. APNS president, Audra Parker, said the group’s case is bolstered by its recent FOIA request, which uncovered documents suggesting that political pressure may have influenced the FAA’s decision-making.

These documents sparked an investigation by two House of Representatives committee chairmen, California’s Darrell Issa and Florida’s John Mica, who asked for an FAA response by July 31 – a deadline the FAA missed.

"We won last year and we have an equally strong, if not stronger, case, and there’s no reason it [the FAA determination] won’t be overturned again," said Parker. She said that not only can the court remand the case to the FAA for re-evaluation, as it did last year, but the judges might also order the FAA to find against the wind farm.

Parker said she expected the court to make its decision fairly quickly. However, Cape Wind’s communications director, Mark Rodgers, said the developer is confident the FAA’s determination is just and will be upheld. "This is a tired story," he said. "They appeal everything that’s appealable, but their legal track record to date is 15 losses, one win."

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