First US Offshore Wind Farm

The developer of what could become the first U.S. offshore wind farm said he is confident about raising funds for the Cape Wind project.

“The project finance banks are back into the space, the Department of Energy has a loan-guarantee program for innovative technologies. We have a lot of interest from private equity companies and strategic utilities around the Cape Wind project,” said Cape Wind Chief Executive Jim Gordon.

The 420-megawatt wind installation is slated for Nantucket Sound, off Massachusetts’ Cape Cod resort area.

“Many people have been following its progress and we’re confident that when the time is right we will go into the market place and raise the capital to build this project,” Gordon told the Reuters Global Climate and Alternative Energy Summit in Boston.

Industry experts have forecast Cape Wind will cost $1 billion to build, though Gordon declined to confirm that number. He declined to name any of the potential investors Cape Wind is talking with.

Gordon has spent almost a decade fighting to get permission to build the project, and along the way faced opposition ranging from the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, whose family would be able to see the project from its Hyannis Port compound, to Wal-Mart Stores Inc, which has raised concerns about the cost of electricity produced by Cape Wind.

But Cape Wind cleared one of its final hurdles last week when the U.S. Department of the Interior signed a lease for the waters where the 130 Siemens AG turbines are to be sited.

Utility operator National Grid has agreed to buy half the power Cape Wind produces. Cape Wind’s last major remaining regulatory approval will be final state approval of the rate it negotiated with National Grid.

Even with the U.S. economy in an anemic recovery following a recession that caused energy prices to drop from record-high levels, Gordon said he expects to find investors for the wind farm.

“Policy makers and investors that look at energy projects don’t look at them in a snapshot of a day, a month or a year. These are long-lived assets,” he said. “The Cape Wind project will operate for over 30 years or longer. … As the economy comes back, as the economy improves globally, energy prices will rise, fossil fuel prices will rise.”

Cape Wind is one of more than a dozen proposed U.S. offshore wind farms along the East Coast from Massachusetts to North Carolina.

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