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NANTUCKET, MA-The US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources eliminated a possible roadblock to development of Cape Wind, a proposed wind farm in 24 square miles of federal waters, located five miles off the Nantucket coastline. The committee inserted an amendment to the Coast Guard appropriations bill that gives only the US Coast Guard, and not Gov. Mitt Romney, the authority to mandate “reasonable” changes and final approval of the plan. Romney opposes the project and has said he would veto the plan.

The project, a joint venture between the Boston-based Energy Management Inc. and Cape Wind Associates, calls for construction of approximately 130 turbine towers that stand about 417 feet high. The location is in an area between Nantucket Sound, Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard.

Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy, who opposes the project, sought to give final approval of the proposed development to both the Coast Guard and Romney. Under opposition to Kennedy’s proposal by the Bush administration and the committee’s Republican majority, Kennedy was forced to accept the compromise to the appropriations bill.

After reaching agreement, Sen. Pete Domenici, the committee chairman, said in a statement: “the governor veto is gone and the Coast Guard is only allowed to address navigational safety concerns.” He says that while the final bill allows federal agencies and local and state governments to have a voice, “it prevents local special interests from torpedoing a reasonable and much-needed energy project in federal waters.”

A Cape Wind spokesman provided GlobeSt.com with the following statement: “We will follow the decision of Congress and continue forward in the permitting process.” He confirms that the estimated cost of the project is $900 million. Permitting is expected to continue through 2007, and the farm is scheduled to be operational at the end of 2009. At peak output, the wind farm is expected to generate more than 400 megawatts of electricity, ample to meet the needs of approximately 400,000 homes on the adjacent islands.

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