Project Benefits

Cleaner Air & Taking Action on Climate Change

Cape Wind will cleanly produce 75% of the electricity used on Cape Cod and the Islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket with zero pollution emissions.  This new clean energy supply will result in reduced operations, fuel consumption, and pollution emissions from fossil fuel power plants in the region.

Cape Wind will also reduce annual emissions of heat trapping carbon dioxide by 734,000 tons.  Put another way, Cape Wind will cause reductions in carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to taking 175,000 cars off the road each year.  This will help Massachusetts achieve the commitments it has made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and will make Cape Cod and the Islands a global leader in getting so much of its electricity needs met by offshore wind power.

Helping Launch a New U.S. Offshore Wind Industry

Europe has built 64 offshore wind farms over the past 24 years and now has 58,000 people working in the offshore wind industry.  Although still untapped, the United States has the greatest offshore wind power resources in the world.  Cape Wind is going to open up the U.S. offshore wind resource and help launch the American offshore wind industry. Cape Wind is facilitating a significant knowledge and skills transfer from Europe to America.  Already, international offshore wind companies have set up new offices in Massachusetts because of the Cape Wind project, including Siemens Wind Power and K2 Management.  U.S. companies playing important roles in the manufacturing and construction of Cape Wind include Maine-based Cianbro which is manufucturing the electric service platform, South Carolina-based Prysmian Cables & Systems USA which is manufacturing and installing the upland electric cables, and New Jersey-based Caldwell Marine that will be installing the submarine cables.

New Jobs & Economic Development

Cape Wind will create 600 to 1,000 jobs during project construction in the region. Some of these construction jobs will be provided by Lawrence Lynch Corp., based in Falmouth on Cape Cod.  Once built, Cape Wind will be operated from its Cape Cod headquarters on Falmouth Harbor, a location which will employ 50 people in well-paid, permanent jobs. In addition to these direct jobs, Cape Wind’s operations will result in 100 additional indirect and induced jobs, according to a study performed by Global Insight.

Cape Wind will also create spin-off jobs in the local economy.  Hy-Line Cruises will commission a vessel for the express purpose of providing Cape Wind eco-tours and they also plan to build a Cape Wind visitors center on their property in Hyannis.  Hy-Line Cruises will work with Cape Cod Community College to provide training to students for these eco-tourism jobs.

Cape Wind will make direct payments of over $4 Million to Massachusetts over the life of the project, including a $780,000 payment towards the restoration of Bird Island, a critical nesting ground for the Roseate Tern.  Massachusetts will also receive 27% of the royalty payments Cape Wind will pay to the Federal Government.  In addition, over the life of the project, Cape Wind will make payments of over $9 Million to the Town of Yarmouth, where the buried power lines will make landfall.

Greater Energy Independence, Diversity, & Reliability

Massachusetts exports $18 Billion dollars of its citizens’ wealth every year to other states and countries to import the energy it needs.  Over the long term, it will be difficult for Massachusetts to be globally competitive as an energy importer.  Massachusetts has a vast offshore wind resource that is local, clean, and will never run out.

Cape Wind is just the start.  After Cape Wind comes online there is another five gigawatts of offshore wind potential (ten times Cape Wind’s size) available to tap in future years in Federal Waters offshore Massachusetts that have already been identified by the Department of Interior working with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

On its own, Cape Wind’s 468 megawatts will provide a significant portion of the goal of 2,000 megawatts of wind energy announced by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.  Each year, Cape Wind will provide enough power for 200,000 homes, as much electricity as it would take a fossil fuel power plant to produce by burning 500,000 tons of coal, 113 million gallons of oil, or 10 billion cubic feet of natural gas.  Cape Wind will increase electricity reliability during times of peak electric demand in New England in both the summer and winter during events in which the electric grid is under the greatest strain.

Due to a strong and fairly reliable "sea breeze effect," Cape Wind would have produced at twice its average production during peak summer electricity demand events over the past decade.

During a severe three-day cold snap in the winter of 2004 when natural gas availability for power generation was significantly reduced, Cape Wind would have been producing at near full capacity. The U.S. Department of Energy studied that episode and determined that Cape Wind’s presence would have provided significant regional electricity reliability benefits to southeast New England during that critical time.

During the winter of 2014 ISO New England had to dispatch older, less efficient and higher polluting 'peaker' power units to keep the lights on during bitterly cold (and windy) conditions.  Cape Wind would have improved electric reliability and reduced the price spikes experienced in both the electricity and natural gas spot markets.

New England now generates over 50% of its electricity from natural gas, and ISO New England, the electric grid manager of New England, has been issuing calls to diversify the electric mix to avoid becoming overly dependent on any one source.  Offshore wind projects like Cape Wind can help provide greater energy diversity and can also help suppress peaks in natural gas prices by providing another source of energy at times of high demand.

Greater Energy Price Stability & Price Reductions in Wholesale Electric Market

Unlike the intense price volatility seen with fossil fuels, Cape Wind provides long term price predictability. Cape Wind will also reduce wholesale electric market prices by placing downward pressure on clearing prices.  The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities verified that Cape Wind would reduce New England wholesale electric market prices.  Cape Wind commissioned a study by Charles River Associates that found that Cape Wind would reduce wholesale electric prices in New England by over $7 Billion over the life of the project.  This 'price suppression' effect of renewable sources of energy on wholesale electic markets has been documented extensively in Europe and in regions of the United States that have signficant quantities of wind power installed.

Avoidance of External Costs

Cape Wind also avoids the external costs of producing electricity from conventional sources.  Not all of the costs for electricity generated by sources like coal and oil are captured on an electric bill, yet we pay these costs in other ways.  We pay higher healthcare bills as a result of air pollution, we pay higher taxes to defend energy supply lines in dangerous parts of the world.  We pay from having environmental degredation and the largest external costs to come will be from global climate change.  A recent study by researchers at Harvard Medical School found that the external costs of Appalachian coal are 18 cents per kilowatt hour, over and above the market price for the electricity generated by that coal.