Timeline - the nine-year saga of Cape Wind

US: Despite its pre-eminent position in the wind energy sector, the US still has to build a major offshore wind farm. Now, in the same month the UK managed to pass its the 1GW milestone in this area, the US seems to be on its way to getting its own offshore development out of the starting blocks.

Yesterday in what could turn out to be a momentous day for the US wind energy sector, interior secretary Ken Salazar granted federal approval to the Cape Wind project, off Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Legal threats notwithstanding, there are signs the project might actually happen.

Nine years on from when the project first appeared in its pages, Windpower Monthly ploughs through the archive and looks back at the saga that has become the development of Cape Wind.




Plans to bring the world's largest wind farm online by 2004 are outlined

The United States' first -- and the world's largest -- offshore wind farm may begin producing power by late 2004. The project has been proposed for five miles off the coast of Cape Cod, an historic region just south of Boston that was first settled by the English in the 1620s. The developers, Cape Wind Associates, plan a whopping 420 MW power plant for a shallow region called Horseshoe Shoal, located in Nantucket Sound between the ultra-wealthy island of Nantucket and the tourist island of Martha's Vineyard (famous as the vacation spot of Bill Clinton).




Cape Wind opposition builds

A proposal for a 420 MW wind farm, put forward by Cape Wind Associates last year, has already suffered several setbacks from local groups opposed to the location, which they say will interfere with fishing and yachting.



Boaters go to court to stop tower construction

Wind farm opponents lost a court bid to stop construction of a weather monitoring tower in Nantucket Sound this month. A group of boaters and otheBrs asked for an emergency restraining order to keep Cape Wind from placing the data-gathering unit in the water.




GE enters the fray

GE picked as equipment supplier. General Electric's bold centre-stage entry in the bitter controversy over the largest wind project yet proposed in the United States has added a new dimension to a high profile power play which has some of the nation's top politicians playing the lead roles.



Governor backs Cape Wind

A coalition of environmental groups is praising Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri for backing the controversial 468 MW Cape Wind offshore project and urging him to broaden his support for renewables to include a portfolio standard in his own state. The governor describes the proposal to build the nation's first offshore wind farm "an extremely promising project" and asks the Bush administration to "advance and streamline" the pending permit reviews.




False press release issued

Opposition to the proposed offshore wind development at Cape Cod off the United States' eastern seaboard has reached a truly fevered pitch this winter after the planting of a false press release with a Boston-based online information service by person or persons unknown.



Favourable report into project impact but Romney increases pressure

A favourable draft environmental assessment by the US Army Corps of Engineers of the 454 MW Cape Wind project off Nantucket's shores in Massachusetts has rekindled the controversy over the project's impacts. Days after the corps released its 3800 page draft report, setting in motion 60 days of public comment, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney stepped up his opposition to the $770 million project by demanding a moratorium on all US offshore wind development pending the completion of a comprehensive ocean zoning plan.




10 turbines relocated

Ten wind turbines in the planned Cape Wind offshore project will be relocated after it transpired that a rock outcropping meant that Massachusetts state boundaries extend further off the mainland than previously thought.




Romney out, Patrick in

The beleaguered developer of the Cape Wind offshore wind project will soon have one less opponent: its own state governor. Among the political reshuffling in last month's elections, Massachusetts voters elected Deval Patrick to office as the first Democratic governor in 16 years.




State planners halt cable laying

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.



MMS takes over from Army to monitor impact

The permitting process for offshore wind power in the United States took a step forward last month when the federal agency charged with offshore oversight -- the Minerals Management Service (MMS) -- released its Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement. This is not the much delayed package of final rules and lease guidance the wind industry is waiting for, but it is the federal government's determination of the environmental impacts that would result from offshore wind and a key step towards the formation of final regulations.




MMS give favourable review

Cape Wind Associates' long running battle to develop what could be America's first offshore wind plant passed a key hurdle last month when the project received a favourable review from the Minerals Management Service (MMS), the lead federal agency for permitting offshore energy activities in federal waters.




Final environmental hurdle passed

It was a mob scene in the Boston offices of Cape Wind when company president Jim Gordon held a triumphant press conference last month to announce the release of the long awaited and final Environmental Impact Statement on his proposed offshore wind station in Nantucket Sound, Massachusetts. Television cameras and print reporters filled the conference room as Gordon said the review, released by the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service, was "extremely favourable."




Native American tribe claims wind farm would infringe rites

A Native American tribe based in Massachusetts that says the wind project would infringe on their centuries-old traditions. The Wampanoag, which in their language means "people of the first light", have for centuries observed the first light of the sun rising up in Nantucket Sound.



Siemens handed the deal to supply turbines

Siemens has won a contract to supply 130 3.6MW turbines for what will be the US's first offshore wind farm and additionally plans to open a facility in Boston. The wind farm has not won federal approval.



Cape Wind wins government approval

The US government has granted approval to Cape Wind, a Massachusetts offshore wind farm expected to be the country's first.