Cape Wind, the offshore wind project off the coast of Massachusetts, is officially dead. Energy Management Inc has ceased efforts to build what was once expected to become the first offshore wind farm in the USA, according to a statement from CEO Jim Gordon. The project’s Boston-based developer has already notified the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management that it has terminated the offshore wind development lease it received in 2010.
With opposition from powerful quarters including the Kennedy family and billionaire industrialist William Koch, Cape Wind suffered a protracted decline and slow death. Efforts to develop the 468 MW offshore farm in Nantucket Sound began in 2001 despite winning several court battles, the project couldn’t survive the 2015 cancellation of contracts to sell its power to local utilities.
“Jim Gordon really was a visionary,” Amy Grace, a New York-based analyst for Bloomberg New Energy Finance said in an interview. “He brought the project to the goal-post. [But] he faced a very vicious and very well-funded lobbying organisation to protect Nantucket Sound.”
Cape Wind, which called for up to 130 turbines in Nantucket Sound, once appeared to be on the vanguard of clean energy in the US. The $2.6 billion project also had backing from powerful players including Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Rabobank Group and a conditional $150 million loan guarantee from the Energy Department. In the end, however, opposition proved insurmountable. While environmental groups argued that it would reduce the region’s reliance on fossil fuel, critics – including owners of local shore-front estates – countered it would spoil views from Cape Cod and disrupt fishing areas.
Lawsuits piled up, delaying the project. Cape Wind missed a series of contractual milestones, prompting National Grid Plc and Northeast Utilities’ NSTAR unit to cancel power-purchase agreements in early 2015, prompting analysts to declare the project effectively dead.