Gov. Markell: Cape Wind project good for DE

    Delaware Gov. Jack Markell applauds Massachusetts decision, even though not too long ago it seemed a near lock that Delaware would be home to the nation’s first offshore wind farm.

    In 2008, when Delmarva Power and Bluewater Wind signed their landmark agreement it seemed Delaware had the inside track toward building the nation’s first offshore wind farm.

    With several projects in the works in states up and down the East Coast, key Delaware officials, including Gov. Jack Markell, talked about the advantages of winning the race for offshore wind development. At stake, they said, was a head start in an industry with endless growth potential.

    “I think there could be value in it because you develop a reputation,” Markell told WHYY’s First last fall.

    Now it appears to be a race for second place. That’s because U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced Wednesday his approval of the 130-turbine Cape Wind project off the coast of Massachusetts that could be generating power by 2012.

    And that’s just fine with Delaware’s governor. Markell spokesman Brian Selander says the governor is not at all disappointed with the announcement.

    “It’s a positive development because it makes clear that the federal government supports offshore wind and is willing to get involved, which could be a benefit to our own efforts off the coast,” Selander said.

    Delaware’s plan of 65-100 turbines to be built about 13 miles off the coast of Rehoboth was initially scheduled to be up and running by 2012. Now, officials with NRG Bluewater Wind, the project’s new owner, say they expect to complete construction and be online by the end of 2014.

    To move forward, according to NRG Bluewater Wind Communications Manager David Gaier, they still need a lease and permits which will primarily come from the Minerals Management Service of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

    Gaier says Cape Wind is good news for them and the entire industry.

    “We recognize offshore wind’s untapped potential for creating tens of thousands of clean-tech jobs and for bringing major manufacturers to our shores,” he said. “The announcement gives us confidence in moving forward on several projects.”

    Gaier says the Delaware project will create up to 500 construction jobs and 50-80 permanent operations and maintenance jobs.

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