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Home arrow Working with Section 106 arrow ACHP Case Digest arrow Spring 2005 arrow Massachusetts: Construction of a Wind Farm, Nantucket Sound
Massachusetts: Construction of a Wind Farm, Nantucket Sound

Agency: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

From the mid-18th century to the mid-19th century, the Massachusetts island of Nantucket was the world’s leading whaling port. Nantucket Historic District encompasses the entire island, which includes the finest surviving example of an early New England seaport town in the United States, according to the National Historic Landmarks program.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is reviewing an application for the construction of a “wind farm” in nearby Nantucket Sound that would include 130 windmills that are 417 feet high and visible from much of the southern Massachusetts coastline. The Corps says that this alternative energy source would have an adverse visual effect on numerous historic properties, including lighthouses and the Nantucket Historic District.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is reviewing a permit application from Cape Wind Associates to construct a “wind farm” in Nantucket Sound, in the triangle of water surrounded by Nantucket Island, Martha’s Vineyard, and Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The wind farm would be comprised of 130 windmills, anchored to the sea bed and each with a height of 417 feet. The windmills would be visible from much of the southern Massachusetts coastline.

The applicant chose Nantucket Sound as the site of the wind farm because of its consistent winds, shallow water depths, proximity to power grids, and distance from commercial shipping lanes and flight paths.

Under the Section 106 review process, the Corps and the Massachusetts State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) determined that the wind farm would have an adverse visual effect on numerous historic districts and individual historic properties, including houses, lighthouses, former President Kennedy’s family home, and several National Historic Landmarks (NHLs) including the Nantucket Historic District.

As part of the review process, the Corps initiated consultation on the proposed project with the SHPO, the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head, and various local governments. Because the Corps determined that NHLs would be adversely affected, it also invited the Secretary of the Interior to participate in Section 106 consultation. Several other organizations, including the Save Our Sound Alliance, the Wianno Club, and the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, have offered comments or asked to be consulting parties to the proposed project.

In February 2005, the Corps notified the ACHP of its finding of adverse effect. That next month, the ACHP conveyed to the Secretary of the Army its intention to be involved in consultation on the proposed wind farm.

This case is expected to generate much controversy since the need for new energy sources must be balanced with the detrimental effects to historic
properties.

Staff contact: Tom McCulloch


Posted August 31, 2005

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