Cape Wind purchases Mass. marina to use as operations hub

Source: Nick Juliano, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, August 24, 2012

Developers of an upcoming offshore wind farm have purchased a Massachusetts marina to serve as the hub of operations for the project that is aiming to be the first offshore wind farm in the United States.

Cape Wind CEO Jim Gordon announced today the purchase of East Marine in Falmouth, Mass., which the company plans to use as its operations and maintenance center for the 130-turbine project planned for Nantucket Sound. The center will create 50 permanent jobs employing highly paid engineers and other skilled workers, Gordon said.

Gordon said the marina’s location was ideal for Cape Wind’s purposes because it contained adequate storage space and large enough slips to accommodate the ships and other materials Cape Wind and Siemens, which is supplying the turbines, will need to maintain the offshore wind farm. He also said nearby universities would ensure a steady supply of well-educated potential employees.

Cape Wind’s developers have spent the last decade navigating state and federal regulatory processes as the project has come closer to fruition. Cape Wind has received all its necessary state and federal approvals and has entered into contracts to sell more than three-quarters of the electricity that will be generated from the 468-megawatt facility. However, it has not finalized a financing deal and is being challenged in federal court by local opponents.

Gordon said the company expects to close a financing arrangement next year and to begin construction as soon as that happens. The employees for the operations and maintenance center are expected to be hired and trained starting in 2014 to be ready for the wind farm to enter service in 2015.

Republican members of Congress also have homed in on a Federal Aviation Administration determination that the project’s turbines will not interfere with local air traffic, questioning whether political pressure overrode safety concerns. FAA last week recertified the project, the fourth such certification dating back to the administration of President George W. Bush (Greenwire, Aug. 16).

Cape Wind began site assessment work last month and expects to begin construction next year (Greenwire, July 5).