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Cape Cod: Twisting in the Wind?

Wind developers face a backlash from citizens.
Fortnightly Magazine - May 15 2002

to gather public comments on an application submitted by Cape Wind Associates to construct a single tower on Horseshoe Shoal in order to gather wind, current, and atmospheric data. From the outset, the moderator of the meeting made it very clear that this meeting was not about the wind farm itself-it was simply to get public opinion on a single structure. However, as is usually the case, emotions ran high, and the focus quickly veered to the wind farm project itself.

As one might imagine, the Cape Codders are very passionate about this issue. On this night, nearly 200 people packed the auditorium in the Barnstable Town Hall. Two uniformed police officers stood by, in case things got out of hand. A large "traffic light" was set up in front of the speaker's podium, so there would be no running over the allotted three-minute time period for comments. It was obvious the Corps of Engineers knew what they were doing, and were ready to run a tight meeting.

Once the opening remarks were made, Cape Wind Associates made a short presentation, and the meeting moved right into public comments. For nearly three hours, citizens of the Cape spoke up, and spoke with feeling. Many were against the project-vehemently against it-and, as was to be expected, many were for it. Following are just a few excerpts from people opposed to the project:

  • "Quite frankly, I question why this project is still alive. The Town Council has voted against it. ... This is just another commentary on developers who refuse to listen to the citizens and villagers. ... Do not industrialize Nantucket Sound. Make no mistake, this is not about renewable energy. This is about saving a cherished public resource from ruin and privatization. ... This test tower is the camel's nose under the tent. It's simply a scheme to get the larger project approved." -
  • "Nobody in Barnstable is against renewable energy. It's the spot that has been chosen that they are against. ... The impacts on the bird and fish communities, issues concerning visibility, the sound of these things, the lighting-there are thousands of issues. ... We feel it's the wrong place. Seventy percent of the earth is covered with water, [so] it's inconceivable that this is the only place it can go. If it moves, we will be behind these folks with the wind farm 100 percent."-
  • "I am a NIMBY. ... Tourists [come to Cape Cod] to see rural, pristine beaches. They don't want to look and see a field of 465-foot towers. The loss in tourism [if this project goes ahead] could be staggering.

    "Now I'll put on my other hat as a charter fisherman. Horseshoe Shoal is a sanctuary for fishermen. When the wind blows, we go to Horseshoe Shoal because it's calmer!"-

  • "I'm opposed to this project ... the result of which would be the rape of a pristine natural resource, and a hazard to navigation."-

But, just as the opposition had the opportunity to voice their concerns, the proponents of the project had their chance, as