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Cape Wind picks contractors for wind farm

April 12, 2012 at 4:10 PM   |   Comments

BOSTON, April 12 (UPI) -- Cape Wind has selected a joint venture team of Flatiron Construction Corp., Cal Dive International, Inc. and Cashman Equipment Corp. as its construction contractor to build a wind power facility off Massachusetts' Nantucket Island.

The offshore renewable energy project stirred fierce community debate, partly because of expected impact on the scenic beauty of an area visible from Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket and because of fears of prices of the electricity generated at the wind farm.

Construction of the wind turbines is due to begin next year.

Cape Wind President Jim Gordon said the project would "create hundreds of jobs in the region."

Boston company Cashman Equipment Corp. was picked as it is one of the leading providers of floating marine equipment in the United States and provides floating marine equipment worldwide, Cape Wind said.

Flatiron Construction Corp. operates from Colorado and Cal Dive International, Inc., an offshore energy marine construction and manned diving firm, has headquarters in Houston.

Cape Wind will reduce wholesale electric prices for the New England region by $7.2 billion over 25 years, a report by Charles River Associates economic consulting firm said.

The report explained that ISO New England, the electric grid operator, first dispatches electric generating units with the lowest cost fuel.

Since Cape Wind's fuel -- wind -- is zero cost, the report states that Cape Wind will displace higher priced and polluting fossil fueled units resulting in average savings of $286 million per year in New England.

"This report makes it clear that Cape Wind will save electric consumers billions of dollars through price suppression while also creating jobs and helping promote cleaner air and greater energy independence," Cape Wind's communications director Mark Rodgers said.

The Charles River Associates' updated report was commissioned by Cape Wind and released last month. The original report was published in 2010.

The increase in price suppression in the report update was attributed primarily to an increase in power plant retirements and a larger price difference between natural gas and fuel oil.

Price suppression in wholesale electric markets occurring as a result of wind power projects has been documented in Europe and in several U.S. power markets, the report said.

Despite supporting research, controversy over the Cape Wind project continues, especially over price projections for the wind farm's electricity generation. Cape Wind is already contracting to sell part of the electricity that it won't supply to National Grid.

Last month, utility company NStar agreed to purchase 27.5 percent of Cape Wind's energy.

Supporters for the renewable energy project say higher costs may be balanced by gains made by the project's environmental credentials.

"These numbers don't even take into account the added economic and societal value of avoided greenhouse gas emissions," Sue Reid, director of the Conservation Law Foundation told The Boston Globe, citing recent controversy over electricity prices.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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