Potential winners and losers wait for Cape Wind envelope

We realize that the decade-long Cape Wind saga will not be over until the turbines start to turn or the sponsors walk away from the project. This week may, however, begin a new chapter in the epic, as Interior Secretary Salazar is expected to announce his decision.

A “yes” will be a boon to the potential U.S. offshore wind industry, which has been looking to this project for a much-needed jump start. Despite the rich US offshore wind resources, Europe is far ahead of the United States in developing offshore wind, and even China is building a project.

A “yes” is also likely to be a boon for lawyers because it is sure to be challenged in the courts by the opponents that have been fighting this project from the beginning.

A “no” decision will be a major psychological blow to the U.S. renewable energy effort, as well as to Massachusetts, whose officials have been banking on Cape Wind for an onshore economic boost. One of the significant economic effects of an offshore wind industry in the United States will be the need for all kinds of onshore infrastructure in coastal regions, not unlike the offshore oil industry’s impact on the Gulf Coast region.

A decision is expected by Friday, and could even come as early as Tuesday.

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