Cape Wind

Cape Wind Project Area
Cape Wind Project Area 

Project History and Overview

The Cape Wind Energy Project was proposed by Cape Wind Associates, LLC, in November 2001. Prior to BOEM’s involvement, the United States Army Corps of Engineers assumed the lead federal regulatory role under the River and Harbors Act, and issued a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in November 2004. Following the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the former Minerals Management Service assumed lead federal responsibility for offshore wind power projects. On September 14, 2005, Cape Wind applied for a commercial lease to construct and operate an offshore wind facility located in Federal waters offshore Cape Cod, Massachusetts, on Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound. On April 28, 2010, Department of the Interior Secretary Salazar announced the availability of the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Cape Wind Project. The ROD documents the decision to select the Preferred Alternative at Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound, as described in the final Environmental Impact Statement.

On October 6, 2010, after years of extensive environmental review and consultations, Cape Wind was issued the nation’s first commercial lease to construct and operate an offshore wind power facility, with the goal of generating clean renewable energy for the Massachusetts and the Cape Cod region. The lease area is comprised of approximately 46 square miles in Nantucket Sound offshore Massachusetts, which accounts for both the project area and a buffer zone. The 33-year lease will cost Cape Wind $88,278 in annual rental payments prior to energy production, and a 2 to 7 percent operating fee once production has commenced. The fee is based on an estimate of what the project’s output would sell for in regional markets. The fee schedule is detailed in the lease.

The project footprint will occupy approximately 25 square miles of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) and consist of 130, 3.6 megawatt (MW) wind turbine generators mounted on monopole foundations, each with a maximum blade height of 440 feet.  The total capacity of the project is 468 MWs, and with an average anticipated output of 183MW, is projected to generate 1,600 gigawatt-hours/year.  At average expected production, Cape Wind could produce enough energy to power tens of thousands of homes in Massachusetts. Each of the wind turbine generators will generate electricity independently, and solid dielectric inner-array cables will funnel the electricity from each wind turbine generator to an electrical service platform located in the middle of the array.  The electrical service platform will collect all of the power and send it to a landfall location in the Town of Yarmouth, Massachusetts via two 115 kV submarine transmission cables. The electricity generated from the project will help satisfy demand in Massachusetts and other New England States.  In fact, the average expected production from the wind facility could provide about 75 percent of the electricity demand for Cape Cod and the Islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. The renewable energy generated from the project also will assist in satisfying the Massachusetts Renewable Portfolio Standard, which requires a certain percentage of total State electricity generation to come from renewable energy resources.

 Current Status of the Project
While Cape Wind Associates has completed nearly all the regulatory requirements, a few items are still being addressed before construction can be authorized, such as those listed below. The project also is undergoing litigation, which may impact the overall schedule.

  • Additional geophysical surveys of the project area must be completed.
  • In accordance with 30 CFR 585, Cape Wind must submit a Facility Design Report (FDR) and a Fabrication Installation Report (FIR).

 Important Project Milestones

  • In November 2001, Cape Wind Associates LLC submitted an application to the Army Corps of Engineers. 
  • In August 2002, the Army Corps issued a permit for Cape Wind to construct a meteorological tower to measure wind speeds and gather data. It was constructed in fall 2002.
  • In November 2004, the Army Corps issued a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). 
  • The Energy Policy Act of 2005 gave lead Federal regulatory authority to the Department of the Interior.  The authority was delegated to the former Minerals Management Service (MMS), and Cape Wind applied for a commercial lease from MMS on September 14, 2005.
  • The Cape Wind draft EIS was published in January 2008 and the final EIS was published in January 2009.
  • The EPA Clean Air Act General Conformity Determination was issued in December 2009.
  • On January 4, 2010, the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places issued a determination that Nantucket Sound is eligible for listing as a Traditional Cultural Property.  On January 13, 2010, a revised Documentation of Section 106 Finding of Adverse Effect was published to take into account the impacts to historic and cultural properties. On March 2, 2010, Secretary of the Interior terminated consultations after it became apparent that agreement among parties for mitigation measures could not be achieved.
  • On April 28, 2010, Secretary Salazar issued the Record of Decision (ROD) approving issuance of a commercial lease for the project.  The announcement coincided with the issuance of an Environmental Assessment (EA) and a Finding of No New Significant Impact (FONNSI).
  • On October 6, 2010, Secretary Salazar and James Gordon, CEO of Cape Wind Associates, signed the first commercial offshore renewable energy lease issued in the U.S. The 33-year lease became effective on November 1, 2010.
  • On October 29, 2010, CWA submitted a construction and operations plan (COP). On February 4, 2011, at BOEM’s request, CWA updated its COP filing.
  • On April 18, 2011, BOEM issued a ROD announcing that the COP for the project has been approved.  This announcement coincided with the issuance of an EA and a FONNSI.
  • BOEM approved CWA’s Avian and Bat Monitoring Plan (ABMP) on November 20, 2012

 Construction and Operations Plan
The Construction and Operations Plan (COP) was submitted by CWA in October 2010. BOEM approved the COP on April 18, 2011.

To determine whether a supplemental EIS was necessary before issuing decision on the COP, BOEM prepared an EA. On February 22, 2011, BOEM published a Notice of Preparation of an Environmental Assessment requesting public input to inform the decision-making process by suggesting new issues or contributing information with regard to potential environmental effects. Approximately 160 comments were received and are available here. On April 18, 2011, BOEM issued an Environmental Assessment and a Finding of No New Significant Impact, and a Record of Decision containing additional terms and conditions of the COP approval.


 Federal Register Notices

 NEPA Documentation

 Section 106 Consultations

 Additional Information