Mass. delegation urges DOE to approve Cape Wind loan guarantee

Source: Nick Juliano, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, April 8, 2013

A decade-in-the-making offshore wind project that has found its pursuit of federal financing assistance caught in the crossfire of House Republicans received some backup today from its home-state congressional delegation.

Massachusetts’ two senators and nine House members — all Democrats — are asking the Department of Energy to swiftly approve a loan guarantee for Cape Wind, the planned 130-turbine wind farm offshore Cape Cod that has been in development since 2001. The project has received all its necessary state and federal permits, signed contracts with utilities to sell more than three-quarters of the electricity it will produce and reached an initial agreement to finance a large portion of its costs.

Cape Wind has applied for a DOE loan guarantee, but its application was shelved in 2011 amid the fallout surrounding the bankruptcy of solar manufacturer Solyndra LLC, which received a $535 million loan guarantee and became a battle cry of GOP critics of the Obama administration’s stimulus spending on clean energy.

House Republicans are keeping up the pressure in an effort to keep DOE from issuing new loan guarantees to Cape Wind or other projects, but the department says a decision on Cape Wind is not on the horizon as it defends the overall value of the program (Greenwire, March 4).

Now the Massachusetts lawmakers are urging DOE to speed its consideration of Cape Wind’s application, arguing the project would create jobs and serve as a catalyst for a potentially vibrant offshore wind industry.

“What this new industry needs most is for the first offshore wind turbines to be installed off our shores to demonstrate the seriousness of our nation in moving forward,” wrote the congressional delegation, led by Rep. Bill Keating, whose district includes Cape Cod. “This is precisely what your timely approval of a DOE Loan Guarantee to Cape Wind will provide.”

Cape Wind is estimated to cost about $2.6 billion, and the company is said to be seeking several hundred million dollars from a DOE loan guarantee. The company last month announced its first round of financing with Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and said it plans to begin construction by the end of this year in order to secure eligibility for a 30 percent investment tax credit (E&ENews PM, March 19).