BOSTON (AP) — Cape Wind plans to move its headquarters to a Cape Cod marina as the offshore wind farm project preps for its long-delayed startup, company officials said Thursday.
Cape Wind President Jim Gordon said the company has signed an agreement to purchase East Marine marina in Falmouth's inner harbor. The project's 50 permanent employees will be based there, with some taking daily trips to monitor and maintain the 130 turbines planned for a project that aims to be the first offshore wind farm in the U.S.
The deal was signed last week, said company spokesman Mark Rodgers, who didn't disclose the terms.
Cape Wind plans to begin construction in 2013, and to move its offices to Falmouth the next year, Rodgers said. It aims to produce power by 2015.
The wind farm, proposed in 2001, has been subject to lengthy review and has been beset by delays amid stiff resistance from opponents who say the turbines will be a visual blight and endanger marine and air traffic.
Opponent Audra Parker of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound said the project's high-priced power is a terrible deal in a state with already steep power costs.
"Cape Wind's 50 jobs would come at the expense of thousands of jobs, which will be lost in Massachusetts due to higher electricity prices," she said.
But advocates say the wind farm will create jobs and increase energy independence.
Gordon said he sees Cape Wind's move to Falmouth as a milestone in an emerging industry "that will bring greater economic prosperity as well as a healthier environment to this region."
Cape Wind is seeking financing for the $2.6 billion project. It has buyers for about three-quarters of its projected power output, but must sell all of its projected electricity before it can finance the entire 130-turbine project. It's currently seeking financing for 101 turbines, but expects to build the entire project, Gordon said.
Thursday's announcement comes a day after the alliance appealed a Federal Aviation Administration ruling that the wind farm poses no danger to airplanes. Parker says the FAA decision "shows a complete and utter disregard for public safety."
The FAA had previously ruled in favor of the wind farm, but a court ordered the agency to reconsider the decision, saying the FAA hadn't adequately determined the project's effect on pilots that fly by sight only.
Parker said the FAA is being driven by politics to approve Cape Wind, and cited documents her group obtained that showed FAA workers were feeling political pressure before they approved Cape Wind.
Gordon said the FAA has now approved the project four times since 2001, during both Republican and Democratic administrations. Rodgers said the alliance's appeal has dim prospects because the latest FAA ruling addressed the concerns the court expressed in its last ruling.
The FAA has said it makes its decisions based solely on safety considerations and the available ways to reduce risks.