FAA determines wind farm is ‘no hazard’

Says project won’t hamper radar

By Beth Daley
Globe Staff / May 18, 2010

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The Federal Aviation Administration determined yesterday that the proposed 130-turbine wind farm in Nantucket Sound will not significantly interfere with planes or radar.

The determination of “no hazard’’ is one of the last approvals Cape Wind Associates needed for the project, which has undergone nine years of permitting review. US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar gave his final OK — by far the most important decision for the project — late last month.

Still, the FAA will require Cape Wind to pay for a roughly $1.5 million radar modification to ensure it can clearly spot planes flying above the wind farm.

The company will also have to put $15 million in escrow for two years to pay for a digital radar system if the $1.5 million fix does not work, according to the FAA.

The FAA has reviewed the Cape Wind project four times because each determination expires after about 18 months. The first two determinations were of “no hazard,’’ but the third was that the wind farm was a “presumed hazard.’’

Today’s assessment comes after the agreement by Cape Wind to make the upgrades.

“With this agreement . . . the FAA believes that there will not be a significant adverse effect to radar service in Nantucket Sound,’’ the nine-page determination said.

“We are pleased with the FAA decision,’’ said Cape Wind spokesman Mark Rodgers.

“We always felt there was a technological solution.’’

Opponents of the project, who have said they are planning lawsuits over a variety of wind farm issues, said the decision would make air travel near the 440-foot-tall wind turbines dangerous.

“The is an entirely political decision that flies in the face of public safety and the recommendations of the pilots who use this airspace every day,’’ said Audra Parker, president and chief executive of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, the main opposition group.

She said the group would appeal the decision.

Beth Daley can be reached at

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