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Cape Cod: Twisting in the Wind?

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

the foreseeable future. There are, however, 135 square miles of water area less than 50 feet deep ... These areas could accommodate 2,250-MW of wind power capacity (using 750 wind turbines)."

What do the Environmentalists Think?

According to LIPA, environmental groups are well behind the project. "Wind power is a win-win for Long Island," says Neal Lewis, executive director of the Long Island Neighborhood. "It is non-polluting ... Long Island environmental groups need to support this proposal and participate in a cooperative fashion in the review process." Sara J. Meyland, executive director and general counsel for the Counsel of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, agrees. "Making Long Island more energy self-sufficient by developing renewable, non-polluting energy capacity has been the dream of many environmentalists. ... Every effort to curb our reliance on fossil fuels helps the Long Island environment and global health. This announcement is an excellent way to celebrate Earth Day, and LIPA should be congratulated for taking the initiative to advance wind energy."

And the Birds?

Aren't there birds off the coast of Long Island? What about them? The study looked into the avian issue, and this is what it came up with. "Although avian impacts at wind power facilities have not been shown to be ecologically significant in general, virtually all of what is known about this subject comes from studies conducted for projects on land. ... A review of studies on avian mortality at more than 15 U.S. wind power facilities reveals relatively few fatalities overall, and no ecologically significant mortality rate at any site, with the possible exception ... [of] the Altamont Pass wind resource area of California."

However, much like on Cape Cod, marine and avian studies are planned before any construction begins. LIPA says that exhaustive research will be conducted in the months to come, including an impact study on the area where the turbines could be erected to see how construction would affect water foul, migratory birds, and marine life. In addition, a pre-proposal meeting for interested wind generation developers will be held on June 25 to gather information and begin the process of soliciting proposals for offshore turbine projects by the end of the year.

"Offshore wind generation for Long Island holds promise for the future," says LIPA Chairman Richard Kessel. "We're going to move forward with a more detailed evaluation of its potential so that we can develop some specific recommendations for the placement of wind generators off Long Island's south shore."


The transmission of the power generated by the turbines was also a concern in the siting process. Duffy said they had to "find a place that was close to an interconnect. The plan was to connect in Yarmouth, and then it's two miles in aboveground cabling to the Barnstable substation."

And what about complaints that the towers are nothing but an eyesore? Both Duffy and Olmsted don't see this as an issue. "There are probably very few days during the year that you'll be able to see that far," Olmsted says, "based on the atmospheric conditions. In addition, we