For the fourth time the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on
August 15, 2012 issued a Determination of No Hazard to the proposed
Cape Wind project, which, if constructed after a decade of
planning, will be the United States' first offshore wind
farm. Energy Management Inc., the project's developer,
proposes to construct and operate 130 wind turbines in a
25-square-mile shallow area of Nantucket Sound known as Horseshoe
Shoal at an estimated cost of $2.5 billion. The project has
now received all required permits, including Construction and
Operations Plan approval from the Bureau of Ocean Energy
Management, Regulation and Enforcement and various other federal
and state approvals, and a 25-year commercial lease from the
Department of the Interior.
The FAA began its review of the Cape Wind project in 2002 and
originally approved the project in May 2010, but the Cape Cod town
of Barnstable and the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, an
environmental group created in 2001 to oppose the project, appealed
the agency's decision. In October 2011, the United States
Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia reversed the
FAA's decision and remanded the matter to the agency for
further review of whether the project posed safety hazards to air
traffic. The D.C. Circuit found that the FAA had ignored its
own regulations and failed to demonstrate that it had analyzed
whether the project would negatively impact air traffic in
approving the Cape Wind project.
The FAA's most recent determination found that the Cape Wind
project poses no hazard to air navigation, as the project falls
within the agency's obstruction standards and would not have
any electromagnetic radiation effect on air traffic. FAA
regulations provide that a structure negatively affects visual
flight rules (VFR) air navigation if its height is more than 500
feet above the surface and if it is located within two miles of a
commonly traveled VFR route. The Cape Wind project does fall
within two miles of a commonly traveled VFR route, but the
project's proposed turbines will only reach 440 feet above the
surface. The FAA found that, provided the Cape Wind project
adheres to the agency's height restriction, files construction
forms with the agency as required, and properly lights structures
that may obstruct planes, the project will pose no hazard to air
Appeals of the FAA's decision are certainly possible; the
Alliance for the Protection of Nantucket Sound has already
indicated it will appeal. In addition, Republican Congressmen
Darrell Issa (R-CA) and John Mica (R-FL) have suggested that the
FAA may have been politically influenced to approve the Cape Wind
project in 2010; a formal congressional investigation could add
further delay to the Cape Wind project.
Energy Management Inc. plans to begin construction on the
project in 2013. Three-quarters of the Cape Wind
project's anticipated electricity output has already been sold
through power purchase agreements with electrical utilities in
Massachusetts, and Energy Management Inc. is now seeking to raise
capital. Each of the 130 proposed turbines will produce as
much as 3.6 megawatts of wind power, and average expected
production is 174 megawatts – nearly 75 percent of demand
for Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
In a recent and much anticipated decision by both natural gas producers and landowners, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court finally cleared up confusion about who owns the mineral rights to shale gas in Butler v. Powers Estate.
Natural gas producers and landowners alike breathed a sigh of relief on April 24, 2013 as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court (the "Supreme Court" or "Court") overturned a lower court decision that questioned whether subsurface ownership rights of natural gas in shale formations should be treated differently than ownership rights of natural gas in conventional formations.
The city of Lancaster, California recently adopted an ordinance requiring builders of most new homes to install functional solar power generation systems on these homes prior to their sale to the public.
As discussed previously on the blog, the IRS released Notice 2013-29 on April 15 which provided guidance on determining when construction has begun on a qualified renewable energy facility for purposes of the production tax credit.