Amid a hotly contested debate among local environmentalists, plans for a $500 million wind farm off the coast of Cape Cod, Mass., are moving forward with the announcement that the Army Corps of Engineers was asked to give the go-ahead for a $2 million grant for a 180-ft test tower. The proposed project, which would include 170 turbine windmills and produce 420MW, would occupy a 28-sq mi. site in Nantucket Sound between Hyannis on the Cape and Nantucket Island.

Those who support the project claim the turbines could generate half the energy needs of the island, but opponents fear the 400-ft towers will endanger birds, fish, and other wildlife. Residents are also worried the array will spoil the skyline of the island.

Proponents, like the Conservation Law Foundation and Greenpeace have focused on the potential for pollution-free energy. According to the CLF, the test tower is an “investment in research and development for a new energy resource of vital importance to our region and nation.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to release its determination on the tower’s potential effects on endangered species today.