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Cape Cod: Twisting in the Wind?

Wind developers face a backlash from citizens.
Fortnightly Magazine - May 15 2002
  1. of the great policy failures in the last 25 years was not significantly increasing our energy independence. We believe that renewable energy is a positive step to achieving that goal.

Here on Cape Cod, we have an awesome, inexhaustible supply of wind. People have always lamented how New England is at the end of the energy pipeline with no indigenous resources. That's simply not true. We have wind. Why not tap into that local solution and keep the dollars on Cape Cod instead of sending them to unstable regions in the Middle East?

Fortnightly: How much money will stay on Cape Cod?

JG: We are a local company and we plan on building with local companies. This is a $700 million dollar project, and that will be spent on construction jobs, operations jobs, maintenance jobs, and administration jobs. We're already pumping money into the community. We just signed a six-figure contract with a local consulting firm to do scientific studies. We are on the ground in Cape Cod, spending money. The project has the potential to be one of the largest construction jobs in Massachusetts at a time when the economy is weakening.

Fortnightly: How will this project affect Cape Cod environmentally?

JG: Cape Cod is at risk of global warming because it is low lying. Beaches are eroding due to rising sea levels, and the Cape has the most to lose. Burning fossil fuels is doing a number on the Cape. Mercury from oil plants is poisoning the fish. The Cape Wind project, however, will coexist with the natural environment. It will be located five miles from the nearest landfall and will peacefully coexist with the fishing and boating industries. I'm confident of that. Finally, I think [this project] will establish Cape Cod as a leader not only in renewable energy, but also in environmental protection.

If the question everyone is asking is, "At the end of the permitting process, will the regulators deem that this project is in the public's interest?" I believe the answer to that is yes. Why? Because the economic, environmental, and energy benefits are overwhelming versus the very minimal impact of this project.

Fortnightly: Obviously, you knew going into this that there would be opposition. Did you ever consider not doing it because of the vocal opposition?

JG: No, absolutely not. We passionately believe in this project. I'm an environmentalist, and this is the most environmentally safe, as well as the most exciting, energy project I've ever been involved with.

In my career, if I had stopped every time some vocal minority tried to shout down one of our projects, New England would be in the dark. Opposition comes with the territory. Many times we work to educate those groups, and very often, we have been able to show them that the projects do make sense. It's interesting, on all seven of my past energy projects, we'd go to public hearings and ask ourselves, "Where is the silent majority?" You see the vocal minority, but where are the supporters? This project is different, though. We've got