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Lack of permits is costly for Cape Wind

Developer to miss out on 30% grant

By Beth Daley
Globe Staff / November 20, 2010

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The developers of the proposed Nantucket Sound wind farm said yesterday that they would not meet a deadline to qualify for a 30 percent federal cash grant for the project.

However, it is not clear if the cost of Cape Wind’s electricity will rise, because the project could receive numerous other federal financial incentives. The price of electric power from Cape Wind, which would amount to roughly 2 percent of electric bills for National Grid customers in Massachusetts, has become one of the biggest controversies of the project.

Cape Wind developers had asked the state Department of Public Utilities to rule by Nov. 15 on a proposed contract between the wind farm and National Grid for the utility to purchase 50 percent of the project’s electricity. They sought the ruling because they wanted to start construction by the end of this year, a requirement to receive the federal grant that is possibly worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

That DPU decision has been delayed to at least Monday, but a Cape Wind official said last night that the main reasons for the missed deadline were outstanding permits from the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Army Corps of Engineers.

While the permits, one for controlling air pollution during construction and one for placing a structure in navigable waters, are considered minor, the fact they are not in hand means construction cannot start by the end of the year.

Beth Daley can be reached at bdaley@globe.com.