Offshore wind power
Shutterstock

The Cape Wind project, which would install 130 wind turbines in Nantucket Sound off the coast of Massachusetts, is in a race against time.

It’s intended to be the first offshore wind farm in U.S. waters, and once it’s up and running, it could provide three-quarters of the electricity used at Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket. But if construction doesn’t start by the end of this year, its backers stand to miss out on a federal tax credit and $200 million worth of investment promised by PensionDanmark, throwing its future into doubt.

What’s the holdup? The project has been besieged by lawsuits, most of them filed by folks who worry that the turbines would interfere with their views and boat outings.

But now Cape Wind executives say they expect to resolve the remaining suits shortly, potentially clearing the way for the project to beat the Dec. 31 deadline. From Bloomberg:

Two legal appeals remain after the company won 13 previous challenges, Vice President Dennis Duffy said [Tuesday] at the American Wind Energy Association’s Offshore Windpower 2013 conference in Providence, Rhode Island.

Cape Wind, based in Boston, has spent more than a decade pursuing the $2.6 billion project in Nantucket Sound, fighting opposition from environmental groups, local fishermen and members of the Kennedy family. …

“We are waiting for those decisions and we think we’ll have them this fall,” Duffy said. “That will give us the opportunity to get the notice to proceed to get the project really going.”

Meanwhile, William Koch, whose billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David fund so many anti-renewable campaigns, is working as hard as ever to stop the project. Koch owns three mansions with grand views of the sound. Maybe he doesn’t mind fossil fuel pollution, but he’s sure as hell not going to stand by quietly while a wind farm creates what he calls “visual pollution.”

The New York Times reports that Koch has spent about $5 million over the last decade on efforts to oppose Cape Wind. He serves as chairman of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, a “nonprofit environmental organization” dedicated to blocking the wind farm’s construction:

Still, Jim Gordon, Cape Wind’s developer, who has spent $70 million of his own money on the project since 2001, vows that it will go forward. …

“This is a very sophisticated adversary,” Mr. Gordon said. “Koch has already spent a decade trying to push us off the path toward a better energy future.”

The two men have circled each other for a decade in an escalating test of wills. Mr. Gordon has tried unsuccessfully to enlist Mr. Koch, who once financed green energy plants, in his cause; Mr. Koch has successfully delayed Cape Wind for years by tying it up in court. A few lawsuits, some of them backed by the Nantucket Sound alliance, remain to be settled.

The clock is ticking: There are fewer than 70 days left until the federal tax incentives and PensionDanmark’s investment are due to evaporate.

See: