Cape Wind, the controversial 130 turbine project slated for construction in Nantucket Sound, announced last week that it will purchase property in Falmouth Harbor for its operations headquarters.
Meanwhile, the wind farm’s opposition continued its fight against the project in court.
According to a press release Thursday, Cape Wind will create 50 new permanent jobs at its Falmouth operations headquarters, with the company signing a purchase and sale agreement for East Marine, located on Falmouth Heights Road. The press release said the operations jobs will be well-paid and drawn primarily from the local workforce.
“We’ve long planned on having our operation headquarters on Cape Cod and a nearby harbor,” Cape Wind communications director Mark Rodgers told the Gazette Monday. Once the wind farm is built on 50 square miles of Nantucket Sound, the country’s largest offshore wind farm — day-to-day operations will take place in Falmouth.
East Marine was “an ideal location for us,” Mr. Rodgers said, because the harbor is well-protected during storms, is not far from the projected wind farm site on Horseshoe Shoal and has the boat slips and building size needed. Cape Wind has also been strongly welcomed by elected officials in Falmouth, Mr. Rodgers said, and Woods Hole and Falmouth are a “world stage” for marine science.
Existing activity will continue at East Marine for the winter boat storage season and summer 2013 operations, after which Cape Wind will begin moving to the site. Cape Wind said it expects to continue to perform some traditional marine functions, including boat slip rentals, at the site.
“Cape and Islanders once lit the lamps of the world by harvesting whale oil,” Cape Wind president Jim Gordon said in a press release. “Pretty soon, every morning, workers will leave from Falmouth Harbor to harness the inexhaustible power of the wind for a healthier environment, increased energy independence and sustainable economic development.”
Audra Parker, president of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, which opposes Cape Wind, told the Gazette that the headquarters purchase was “more of a p.r. ploy than a reality.” She said the 50 jobs created would “pale in comparison to the thousands of jobs lost in Massachusetts because of Cape Wind’s electricity prices.”
Less than two weeks ago, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a determination that the project would not pose a hazard to aviation, putting Cape Wind clear of regulatory hurdles.
Last week, the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound announced that it filed an appeal of the decision in federal court, adding that there is a congressional investigation of the FAA’s handling of Cape Wind. In a press release, the organization said that the FAA bowed to political pressure in determining the no-hazard status for the project.
In November 2011, a federal appeals court rejected an FAA finding that the project did not pose a safety hazard, a decision Ms. Parker pointed out.
“We have no reason to believe we won’t win again,” Ms. Parker told the Gazette. She said the current no-hazard determination rests on an argument that the court rejected last fall.
“It very clearly poses safety hazards, and nothing about the project has changed to address aviation safety,” she said.
She added that there are four other ongoing lawsuits against the project, including one by her organization.
“Cape Wind is facing numerous legal and financial obstacles and it is by no means a done deal, as they would like the public to believe,” she said.
“The opposition has been very litigious since the beginning, so it’s no surprise in that sense,” Mr. Rodgers said of the appeal. “They’ve challenged everything that’s challengeable.”
He said the most recent FAA ruling is “dramatically different” than the prior determination against the project. “The contents are very different,” he said. “We’re quite confident that this decision will be very robust.”