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Cape Cod: Twisting in the Wind?
Wind developers face a backlash from citizens.
The Boston, Mass.-based energy firm Cape Wind Associates is proposing something never-before-done in the United States. The wind farm developers are proposing to build an offshore wind farm just a few miles from the historic, and tourist-packed, beaches of Cape Cod. And, as one might expect, the residents of the Cape aren't welcoming the proposal. In fact, they have been packing themselves into town halls and school auditoriums for months to voice their disapproval. The traveled to Boston to talk about the issues with the wind developers, then to Barnstable Town Hall on Cape Cod to get the citizens' side. The magazine tried to find out why some Cape Cod citizens are resistant to a technology that has been touted as the world's most environmentally friendly. Especially since a recent New England Independent Systems Operator report () finds that the region is headed for 40 percent load growth over the next 20 years.
"We have become more and more dependent on natural gas. The ISO says we will have deliverability problems as near as 2003, by almost 1,750 MW. And, by 2005, that number could rise to 3,300 MW. A 420 MW project could be very useful to ensure reliability in this area," says Albert Benson, a specialist with the U.S. Department of Energy.
In addition, the Massachusetts state legislature has established a renewable portfolio standard that took effect on April 26, which sets a minimum standard by which retail electricity product sold to Massachusetts end-use customers by a retail electricity supplier shall include a minimum percentage of electricity energy sales with renewable generation attributes. The minimum will start at 1 percent in 2003, and rise to 4 percent by 2009.
If Not Wind, Then What?
Craig Olmsted and Dennis Duffy, Cape Wind Associates' vice presidents of operations and regulatory affairs, respectively, say that what they are trying to do is create a solution to a growing problem.
The Cape Wind project, expected to be up and running sometime in 2005, proposes 150 to 175 wind turbines be constructed off the coast of Nantucket Sound-in an area known to locals, fishermen, and yachtsmen as Horseshoe Shoal. Each turbine will stand more than 400 feet, and at maximum productivity, will produce 420 MW of power. However, due to the instability of wind flows, a more likely average estimate is 170 KW.
"What we do for a living is develop power projects. And we're fortunate to be able to sit back and take a shot at something that is environmentally as friendly as you can get," says Olmsted.
A Brouhaha in Barnstable
No punches were pulled at a town meeting on wind power.
The Constitution of the United States provides for citizens to both gather, and speak freely, without fear of persecution. This vision was in clear practice on April 11, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held a town meeting in Barnstable, Massachusetts-the hub of activity and controversy over a proposed offshore wind farm project on Cape Cod.
The sole purpose of this meeting was