The Cape Wind Conflict
The planned Cape Wind project would put 130 wind turbines in Nantucket Sound, four to 11 miles off the Massachusetts coast. It would be America's first offshore wind farm and it would be a big one. The numbers from a new report on the project are impressive:
The turbines would supply about 10 percent of the 2013 power demand in Southeastern Massachusetts and about 1 percent of the total 2013 New England demand.The project would save the New England region about $185 million a year, according to the report, which was prepared this month by Charles River Associates and commissioned by backers of the project. Over 25 years, this would amount to $4.6 billion.Part of the reason this wind farm would do so well is that Nantucket Sound happens to be an outstanding place for turbines (it's officially "outstanding," in fact-see below):The Cape Wind project has been caught up in bureaucratic delays since 2001 though. Some opponents argue that those huge turbines will interfere with historic Native American sites, impede fishermen, and possibly hurt wildlife in the area.But there are also objections from people who own vacation homes on Cape Cod and worry that the wind farm will disrupt their views. The turbines would be visible from the Kennedy compound, for example, and it's hard not to read Robert Kennedy Jr.'s 2005 op-ed about the project as NIMBYism. He writes:
As an environmentalist, I support wind power, including wind power on the high seas. I am also involved in siting wind farms in appropriate landscapes, of which there are many. But I do believe that some places should be off limits to any sort of industrial development. I wouldn't build a wind farm in Yosemite National Park. Nor would I build one on Nantucket Sound, which is exactly what the company Energy Management is trying to do with its Cape Wind project.Comparing the expanse of ocean off of Nantucket Sound to Yosemite doesn't seem fair, and it's discouraging to think that America's siting of alternative power projects will be determined by the aesthetic interests of the well-heeled.At this point, the decision is up to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. He's given the various parties until March 1 to come up with a compromise before he makes an executive decision.For my part, I'm actually surprised that these turbines are considered such an eyesore. Watch this video of a ship sailing through the comparable Nysted wind farm in Denmark. I think its actually a beautiful way of generating energy.