March 18th, 2013 - posted by Michael Miller
Just in from the Cape Cod Time’s Matt Camara:
Offshore wind energy supporters blitzed the U.S. Department of Energy last week with comments aimed at pushing the agency into giving the $2.6 billion Cape Wind project a loan guarantee.
“Cape Wind carries tremendous importance for unleashing, at long last, one of America’s greatest reservoirs of inexhaustible clean energy,” wrote some two dozen environmental, public health and labor groups in a letter to the DOE. “Such action will help lay the strongest possible foundation for offshore renewable energy development in the United States.”
The wind farm is fully permitted and awaiting a decision on whether the DOE will provide the loan guarantee — meaning the department would take responsibility for the project’s debt in the event of a bankruptcy — but a spokesman declined to say how much Cape Wind hopes the government would put up.
“There would be many other commercial financing partners involved with Cape Wind,” spokesman Mark Rodgers said Friday night, adding that the guarantee would be “a great help.”
Cape Wind’s application for a roughly $2 billion DOE loan was put on hold in 2011. It has now been pared to about $350 million, a source with knowledge of the request told the Cape Cod Times last week.
The push from Cape Wind’s supporters came after a pair of congressmen wrote to Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, expressing concern over the controversy surrounding the project and demanding all records associated with Cape Wind.
U.S. Reps. Paul Broun, R-Ga., and James Lankford, R-Okla., who sit on technology and energy policy subcommittees, sent two letters to Chu asking for the records and all pending applications for two DOE loan guarantee programs before a decision is made.
The agency will consider any new information before deciding whether to approve a loan for Cape Wind, David Frantz, the energy agency’s acting executive director of the loan programs office, wrote in an initial response to Broun and Lankford. The department has made no decision on whether to issue a conditional commitment or loan guarantee for Cape Wind, he wrote.
Rodgers said Broun and Lankford’s letters were likely political plays aimed at the Obama administration, not at Cape Wind, and that the Georgia congressman recently supported an $8 billion guarantee for a nuclear project in his home state.
The public comment period for the guarantee closed March 11, the day Cape Wind supporters sent the DOE their comments.
Cape Wind opponents, however, said that even with the loan guarantee there is no certainty the project will move forward. The project remains mired in five lawsuits and has yet to find private investors, said Audra Parker, president of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound.
Material from The Associated Press and staff writer Patrick Cassidy was used in this report.
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