Court Rules for Cape Wind, Ending a Decade of Failed Opposition

Author: Lewis Milford, Clean Energy Group | Project: Offshore Wind Accelerator Project

blogphoto-Windmills-Further-HorizontalIf you are an environmental lawyer, there is nothing more deflating than reading a judge’s decision that clinically rejects all your best arguments. I know because I have had my share of losing environmental cases.

But this time, it is that kick-in-the-stomach feeling that the lawyers for the opponents of the Cape Wind offshore wind project must have felt when they read Judge Reggie Walton’s decision last Friday. The federal court ruling, ten years after the project was first proposed, should clear the way for the construction of the first large scale offshore wind project in the U.S.

Judge Walton did require that two minor administrative claims be sent back and fixed by the federal agencies, but no one seriously thinks those matters will be a road block to the project’s construction.

So what does the decision mean, assuming that it ends a decade of fruitless litigation?

First, it is good news for the development of offshore wind projects in the United States. In a few years, we will have the first major offshore wind project in the water, along with others, showing the rest of the US how it can deploy this much needed renewable energy resource at scale.

Second, it is good news for jobs in the offshore wind industry and its supply chain companies. Already, the Cape Wind developers have contracted with businesses in New Jersey, South Carolina, Maine, and Massachusetts to build different parts of the project, from cables to port facilities. Soon, we will start seeing the major economic benefits from offshore wind come to the U.S.

Third, the decision is an environmental roadmap for other offshore wind projects. It shows how federal agencies and developers can comply with environmental laws like NEPA, the Endangered Species Act, and the Migratory Bird Act for many new offshore projects in other parts of the coast.

Fourth, it shows opponents that they can delay, but not stop, sound offshore wind projects by twisting the meaning of environmental review. The Cape Wind project is probably one of the most litigated energy projects in the U.S. In the end, none of the claimed environmental harms was significant. None of them caused a judge to halt the work.

Fifth, it shows, however, that delay can cause great harm to the growth of a new energy industry. Cape Wind could have been built years ago, delivering emissions-free energy and creating jobs up and down the East Coast in industries like ports and shipping hard hit by the Great Recession.

Sixth, it shows the amazing resiliency of people who believe in this industry. Jim Gordon, the project developer of Cape Wind, never gave up against amazing odds and powerful interests. We can only hope that other developers have the tenacity he has shown over the past decade.

And finally, maybe the most important, the winners of this case are the rule of law and our independent federal courts. Well-heeled opponents might have influence over other branches of government but there is one thing they cannot buy—a federal judge with a duty to be fair and impartial.

Let’s hope that Cape Wind is the first of many offshore wind projects in the U.S, and that any future opponents will get on the right side of history and support these projects.

Clean Energy Group and Sustainable Energy Advantage to Operate U.S. Department of Energy’s Northeast Wind Resource Center

Author:  Maria Blais Costello, Clean Energy Group | Project: Offshore Wind Accelerator Project

RRC-Map-with-LogoClean Energy Group and Sustainable Energy Advantage (SEA), LLC, are pleased to announce that they have been selected to develop and operate the Northeast Wind Resource Center, one of six regional wind energy resource centers to be established across the US by the U.S. Department of Energy. These resource centers will be tasked with providing accurate and unbiased education and outreach to stakeholders and decision makers about wind energy deployment in their respective regions.

The Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory are creating the regional wind energy resource centers in response to the rapid growth of the wind energy sector in recent years, a trend that is expected to continue for wind projects of all sizes. Each resource center will work to ensure that wind energy develops in a way that best matches the unique opportunities of its geographic area.

The Northeast Wind Resource Center will address the need for interstate cooperation and will emphasize sharing of experiences and best practices. It will enable fact-based siting decisions driven by an inclusive process. It will serve the information needs of New England and New York in the case of land-based wind, and that same region plus the state of New Jersey for offshore wind. Clean Energy Group will spearhead efforts around offshore wind, and SEA will focus on land-based wind.

Clean Energy Group is very pleased to be working with the Department of Energy and the northeast states on developing the Northeast Wind Resource Center. For our focus on offshore wind, we expect to work closely with state policymakers to ensure that the Center provides the information and analysis that they need to advance offshore wind in the Northeast in the best way possible. Sustainable Energy Advantage looks forward to working with DOE, NREL, and stakeholders from across the region to making the Northeast Wind Resource Center a forum that will support effective decisions about land-based wind power, which is a growing contributor to our energy mix. By providing credible, salient information, the Center will assist decision-makers and communities in New England, New York, and other northeast states who are engaged in siting decisions for both land-based and offshore wind.

The Center will incorporate the work of many other organizations in the region. The Maine Ocean & Wind Industry Initiative will serve as a key liaison to the wind industry, and other organizations and public agencies will serve on a steering committee that will be set up in the coming months to guide the Center’s key activities.

DOE’s announcement regarding the centers can be found here.