Developers Lining Up for Mass. Wind Farm Project
Ten developers are interested in building massive wind farms off the coast of Massachusetts that together could generate nearly 10 times the amount of energy as the controversial and long-stalled Cape Wind project.
The wind farms would be built in an expanse of federal waters larger than Rhode Island, about 14 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard and identified by the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management as an ideal place for such development. After more than two years of talks with local and state officials, environmentalists, fishermen, and tribal leaders, the bureau last week refined the boundaries of the so-called wind energy area, whittling it down to 1,160 square miles from an initially proposed 3,000.
State officials provided a list of the 10 companies that have expressed interest in construction of a wind farm at that location.
The bureau said it would begin an environmental assessment of the area, which officials have estimated could produce as much as 4,000 megawatts of energy - enough to power an estimated 1.7 million homes. Construction of turbines likely would not begin for several years.
“It’s a very exciting opportunity for Massachusetts,” said Richard K. Sullivan Jr., the state’s energy and environmental affairs secretary. “It also puts Massachusetts in a very strong position to be the national leader in offshore wind.”
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has been working to identify and assess other wind energy areas along the nation’s coast, and last year named federal waters off New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia as potential sites.
Governor Deval Patrick has made wind-generated energy a priority, championing the construction of Cape Wind, and setting a goal to have 2,000 megawatts worth of wind-power capacity by 2020. During the past decade, the state’s installed wind capacity has increased from less than a megawatt to nearly 60 megawatts, enough to power about 15,800 homes.