First US Wind Farm Approved

Photo: AP

The first US offshore wind farm project won government approval on Wednesday after nearly a decade of battles involving environmentalists, Indian tribes and others.

The big Massachusetts project approved by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is seen as a giving a major boost to wind power in the United States even though it still may face additional legal challenges.

Wind power currently account for around one percent of US electric capacity, according to the American Wind Energy Association, which said the new project is likely to provide new momentum to wind projects.

Critics have argued that the wind turbines would hurt fishing, endanger aircraft, lead to higher utility rates, and have a negative impact on tourism by marring a resource prized by many vacationers.

To minimise the impact of the project, the government has required the developer to reduce the number of turbines, reconfigure the array to diminish its visual effects and paint the turbines off-white to reduce contrast with the sea and sky yet ensure they remain visible to birds.

Cape Wind involves 130 wind turbine towers, enough to produce as much as 468 megawatts – enough power for 75 per cent of energy needs of Cape Cod and the nearby islands.

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