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Another skirmish in the Cape Cod war -- Attempt to deny cable

Cape Wind Associates, developer of a much discussed offshore wind farm off the coast of Massachusetts, has been denied permission to lay cables through Cape Cod land to link the power station to a connection point in Barnstable. The decision by the Cape Cod Commission, a regional planning agency, came under heavy fire from Cape Wind executives and others who support the project.

"It's a shame. It's disappointing," says Jim Gordon, president of Cape Wind Associates. "We're going to take our next steps to seek relief, to seek permission to get those overturned. On advice of council, I am not at liberty to say what that would be right now." At issue is whether the Cape Cod Commission has the power to affect the outcome of the beleaguered project. It was formed in 1990 to control suburban sprawl and has the authority to investigate "developments of regional impact." Its jurisdiction is limited to three miles off the shoreline. Cape Wind, a project first proposed in 2001, would consist of 130, 3.8 MW turbines in federal waters beyond the three-mile boundary. Only the transmission lines would run through Cape Cod.

Many observers believe the Commission is trying to wield power it does not possess. Cape Wind has declined to comply with demands made by the Commission on matters relating to the part of the project in federal waters. In denying permission for the cable, the Commission waited six years into the project permitting to demand answers to questions relating to the cable. By the time it did so in the summer, its statutory deadlines had already passed.

Override

Currently sitting on the Commission are several people who have vehemently opposed the Cape Wind project, including Royden Richardson. Richardson was the head of the Barnstable town council in 2001 and tried to get it to pass anti-wind farm resolutions (which would have had no legal effect) as early as October that year -- months before the project developer had filed preliminary paperwork. When Richardson's term limit on the council was up, he was moved to the Cape Cod Commission. Shortly after that, the Commission began trying to extend its permitting power.

Meantime, the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board several years ago approved the cables and the interconnect. The state agency has the legal power to override the regional agency, a move which many believe is likely.

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