Joseph P. Kennedy III has declared his support for Cape Wind, in a move that signifies a departure from his family’s stance on the controversial project during the closing months of the congressional race in the Fourth District.
Kennedy is a Democratic candidate for the US House of Representatives in the Fourth District. His great-uncle, the late US Senator Edward M. Kennedy, was a notable opponent of Cape Wind, which would bring 130 wind turbines to Nantucket Sound offshore from the family’s compound in Hyannis Port.
Kennedy was not available for comment Friday. A spokeswoman, Emily Browne, said Kennedy is an advocate for renewable energy and energy independence, and he sees Cape Wind as a piece of that effort.
“Additionally, he believes Cape Wind will lay the groundwork for a world-class clean energy industry that will create jobs and support economic growth across the Commonwealth,” she said in a statement.
This month, Cape Wind plans to purchase a Falmouth marina to serve as its base of operations, and the Federal Aviation Administration ruled that the offshore wind farm would not interfere with air traffic.
The president of Cape Wind told the Globe last week that he expects to begin operating the 440-foot tall turbines in 2015.
Kennedy, a former assistant prosecutor in the Cape and Islands district attorney’s office, declared his position on the project in an interview with the Attleboro Sun Chronicle.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Kennedy’s uncle, and his father, Joseph P. Kennedy II, could not be reached for comment Friday.
Sean Bielat, a Republican candidate in the Fourth Congressional District, said he believes Kennedy announced his support just before Labor Day weekend to limit the impact of his departure from his family’s position.
“It’s indicative of the fact that he’s not particularly comfortable taking a stand that’s in opposition to his family,” Bielat said.
If elected, Bielat said he would not oppose permitting rights for Cape Wind, and said he does not harbor particularly strong opinions on the project. But, he added, on a personal level he does not believe it is economically viable.
Elizabeth Childs, another Republican challenger for the Fourth District seat, said she is supportive of the nation moving toward energy independence, but government-subsidized efforts like Cape Wind place added costs on taxpayers and utility ratepayers.
The Cape Wind development would occur outside the Fourth District, and Childs said it is not a significant issue among voters.
“That’s not what people are talking about,” she said. “I would hope that Joe would talk about things that are more relevant to the voters of our district.”
One Democratic challenger to Kennedy who supports Cape Wind, Herb Robinson, agreed that it is not an important topic in the district.
Other candidates for the seat, including David L. Steinhof and Rachel Brown, could not be reached for comment Friday.
Mark Rodgers, a spokesman for Cape Wind, said Kennedy’s support represents the view of most young Massachusetts residents.
“It speaks to the younger generation in Massachusetts of people that understand that leadership starts at home, and it’s time to break free of dirty imported energy by embracing local clean sources of energy,” Rodgers said.
Audra Parker, president of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, a group opposing Cape Wind, said it is difficult to understand why Kennedy, or any political candidate in Massachusetts, would support the initiative. She echoed Bielat and Childs, saying it would increase costs for ratepayers.
Zachary T. Sampson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.