May 5, 2006

US should not let Mass. block wind farm: Bush admin

By Chris Baltimore

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration has weighed
in against a plan advancing in the U.S. Congress that would
empower the Massachusetts governor to block the nation's first
offshore wind farm from being built in Nantucket Sound.

David Garman, UnderSecretary of Energy, said provisions in
the $8.7 billion Coast Guard reauthorization bill that would
empower Governor Mitt Romney to block the $900 million project
are "unwise" because the New England region needs new energy

A House-Senate bargaining committee last month included a
provision in the funding bill that would allow Romney to block
a plan by Cape Wind Associates LLC to put 130 giant wind
turbines near the tony resort islands of Martha's Vineyard and

Romney, a Republican, is an outspoken opponent of the
project, as is U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, a Democrat, and many
wealthy residents who own coastal property and belong to
exclusive yacht clubs in the area.

Backers say the project could generate enough electricity
for most of Cape Cod and nearby islands.

Garman said blocking the wind farm would have a "chilling
impact" on the administration's goal of expanding renewable
energy sources like wind and solar.

Lawmakers should strip out the measure before they send the
Coast Guard funding bill to President George W. Bush to be
signed into law, Garman said. The House could take up the
funding bill next week, and the Senate would likely act after
that, aides said.

Garman's letter was released on Friday, a day after the two
top lawmakers on the Senate Energy Committee said they will
oppose final passage of funding bill in the Senate because it
would block the 400 megawatt project.

Blocking the wind farm would set "a terrible precedent,"
said Sen. Pete Domenici, New Mexico Republican. , who said he
will oppose the plan along with Sen. Jeff Bingaman, New Mexico

"To invent a new regulatory process designed simply to
deliver a negative result would chill future investment in
renewable energy," Bingaman said.

An odd alliance has formed to block the project, including
the liberal Kennedy and two conservative Alaska Republicans --
Sen. Ted Stevens and Rep. Don Young, chairman of the House
Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

On a clear day, the windmills would be visible from many of
the area's resort homes, including the Kennedy family compound
in Hyannisport six miles away.

Studies show the area has some of the strongest, most
consistent wind in the eastern United States. At peak output,
the project would generate more than 400 megawatts of
electricity, enough to meet the needs of some 400,000 homes on
Cape Cod and the nearby islands.

The Cape Wind project is being developed by privately held
Energy Management Inc. of Boston.