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Cape Cod: Twisting in the Wind?

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

intend to paint them gray so that they will blend into the background." ()

"We're not na‹ve about the visual issue," Duffy says. "We know it's a legitimate point, and I don't mean to dismiss it. But, it's one point that has to be balanced in part of an overall, much more broad societal decision as to what we're going to do to meet our future energy needs."

Olmsted elaborates by saying, "If you look at the entire Sound, you'd want to be out of the shipping channels, don't you think? Then there's a marine and bird habitat, a three-mile limit where you aren't allowed under Mass law to put power structures. So, now you can see it in your mind. Think about shallow water again. You're looking at a few small spaces. Considerably greater distances to get to shore, but no less sensitive than Horseshoe Shoal. This is the place," he says. (.)

What About the Birds?

Environmental opponents to the project question what will happen to the migratory birds who fly through Horseshoe Shoal on their way South, as well as the birds that are indigenous to the area. One example of a bad wind farm situation gone awry that is often sited by the opposition is Altamont Pass, California. "Everybody brings up the bird issue in the context of the Altamont Pass experience, which really in an anomaly of the whole industry," says Olmsted. "We are spending a great deal of time, effort, and resources on studying the birds out there. Most of the evidence that's already available is that birds see these things from a long way away, and tend to avoid them.

"The difference in Altamont was that they were put into a pass where the wind is sort of trapped at a higher velocity, and that's where birds like to go-with the wind, number one. Number two, those towers were the old lattice design towers, and they made tremendous perches. Raptors would sit there and look for their prey. They'd focus on their prey, and forget those things were spinning at a considerably greater rate than ours would be spinning. That was the main problem at Altamont.

"You don't really find that in evidence in any other area that I'm aware of, and certainly not any of the other wind parks we've looked at. One [wind park] that we've spent quite a bit of time looking at is off the coast of Sweden. It's an area ... that's in the flightway of many different species of birds that are identical to what we have on Horseshoe Shoal. They've got people out there 24/7 monitoring bird activity, and over the past year, they've got zero kills. Zero, not just a couple. Zero. So, I think there's a broad body of evidence that specifically offshore, the bird issue is not significant, and needs to be studied, but it's not a deal killer, or a fatal flaw."

And as far as the Cape Wind project is concerned, the company says they are committed to finding out all they can