Cape Wind, the controversial 130-turbine project slated for construction on Horseshoe Shoal, cleared its final regulatory hurdle this week when the Federal Aviation Administration determined that the project would not pose a hazard to aviation.
On the drawing board for 10 years, Cape Wind is planned to be the country’s largest offshore wind farm, covering 50 square miles in Nantucket Sound.
“With this FAA determination of no hazard we have now completed the permitting process,” Cape Wind Associates spokesman Mark Rodgers said yesterday.
Cape Wind has moved into the financing stage of the project, Mr. Rodgers said, and has engaged Barclay’s Capital to manage the finances. Chappaquiddick summer resident Theodore Roosevelt 4th is leading that effort, he said.
This is the fourth determination of no hazard Cape Wind has received in more than 10 years of permitting process. The FAA announced its latest findings on Wednesday after an aeronautical study found that the turbines were not a safety hazard to local air traffic.
The Cape Wind turbines are planned to be 440 feet tall, and the FAA ruled that only turbines exceeding the 440 feet above ground level would result in “substantial adverse effect” and would then “warrant a determination of hazard to air navigation.”
The study “revealed that the structure does not exceed obstruction standards and would not be a hazard to air navigation,” provided the turbines are marked in accordance with FAA standards. The determination expires in February 2014.
The study also found that the turbines will not have a substantial adverse effect on radar and air traffic control towers.
“Studies indicate that there would be no noticeable effect on beacon radar service because the proposed turbines are not like to affect the detection of aircraft with an operational transponder,” the report found. The radar sites analyzed — North Truro Cape, Nantucket and Cape Cod Coast Guard Air Station in Falmouth — are beyond the 2.4 nautical miles from the proposed wind turbines, “and thus the FAA does not anticipate that the wind turbines would cause any beam distortion.”
Construction is expected to begin in 2013, Mr. Rodgers said.
Opponents to the wind farm characterized the ruling as a political move and promised further appeal “fairly soon.”
“Today’s Federal Aviation Administration ruling shows a complete and total disregard for public safety,” Audra Parker, spokesman for the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound said in a statement. “The agency charged with protecting pilots and passengers has completely abdicated its responsibility to the public because of political pressure.”
“No pilot or passenger should allow this politically-driven decision to stand. This decision can once again be appealed. With one victory behind us, there is no reason to believe we won’t win again.”
Another potential legal obstacle to the wind farm was recently removed when the Martha’s Vineyard Dukes County Fishermen’s Association dropped a federal lawsuit after reaching a settlement agreement with Cape Wind. The agreement calls for a trust fund to be set up to enable Vineyard fishermen to buy permits; Cape Wind will put an unspecified amount of money into the trust fund. The Martha’s Vineyard Fishermen’s Preservation Trust will buy fishing permits and lease them at affordable rates to Island fishermen.