In the wake of a visit by the head of the U.S. Department of Interior last week, Cape Wind released a study that finds its 468-megawatt offshore wind project in Nantucket Sound will reduce wholesale electric prices for the New England region by $4.6 billion over 25 years by reducing the operations of fossil fuel. This translates into an average savings of $185 million annually.
The report, “Analysis of the Impact of Cape Wind on New England Energy Prices” (PDF), conducted by Charles River Associates, also concludes that the project will provide enough power to supply approximately 10 percent of projected 2013 demand in Southeastern Massachusetts and just over 1 percent of total projected 2013 New England demand.
The study also shows the price of power in the New England wholesale market would be $1.22/MWh lower on average from 2013 to 2037 with Cape Wind.
Cape Wind says it has been undergoing a comprehensive review by 17 federal and state agencies over the past eight years. In January, the U.S. Interior Department announced that it hoped to reach an agreement by March 1 over the long-delayed Cape Wind power project.
The project recently got a boost when it entered into negotiations with National Grid in December last year for an agreement to purchase electricity generated by the proposed offshore wind project
But the boost didn’t last long. In January, the National Park Service agreed with a tribal claim that Nantucket Sound was eligible for a listing on the National Register of Historic Places, reports the Boston Herald.
The Wampanoags say Cape Wind will interfere with their ancient religious rituals, which require an unblocked view of sunrise, and most likely will be built on ancestral burial ground, reports the Boston Herald.
Opponents also say the project threatens aviation, bird life and commercial fishing, reports The Boston Herald.
Furthering delaying a decision by the Interior Secretary, a federal inspector general’s investigation into the Department of Interior’s Minerals Management Service’s environmental review of the proposed wind farm found that several federal agencies felt “rushed” to finish their contributions to the report, reports the Boston Globe. Despite the ruling, no agency believes its overall conclusions changed, according to the article.
The investigation also found the review did not include the most current findings about the impact on air traffic, reports The Boston Globe. According to the article, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) found that the 130 proposed wind turbines would be a “presumed hazard” to aircraft, but the report used an outdated FAA finding that determined there was no hazard.
Although the Inspector General’s report found that the final Cape Wind EIS was not the subject of improper political influence or otherwise deficient, Secretary Ken Salazar is directing Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes to work with Interior Solicitor Hilary Tompkins to review the report and provide recommendations to him regarding issues that are material to the Department’s upcoming Cape Wind decision.
After a recent site visit, Salazar now expects to make a final decision on Cape Wind by the end of April, reports Wicked Local. At the same time Cape Wind president Jim Gordon sent out emails to thousands of supporters urging them to submit public comments to the Interior Secretary, according to the article.