We appreciate Secretary Salazar holding these three meetings with stakeholders today and look forward to working constructively in the days ahead on trying to reach a Memorandum of Agreement with the other parties.”
Decison on Cape Wind by April
The U.S. Interior Department said on Wednesday it will issue a final decision by the end of April on a proposal to build the first major U.S. offshore wind farm.
The annoucement followed three meetings in which key stakeholders could not reach an agreement to settle their nine-year regulatory struggle over the proposed $1 billion Cape Wind power project off the coast of Massachusetts.
Wind farm planners propose compromises
Developers of the proposed Nantucket Sound wind farm reconfigured the project’s footprint and agreed to search for Native American artifacts in the sea bed where the wind turbines would be built, according to a draft agreement drawn up in June to satisfy Native American and historical preservation officials’ concerns.
That never-signed document is expected to serve as a rough template today in Washington when US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar convenes key players to broker a compromise on what appears to be the last major roadblock to Cape Wind’s approval: Native Americans’ conviction that the project will interfere with their age-old spiritual rituals, and the resulting determination by the National Park Service that Nantucket Sound is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
Once the wind farm is built, Cape Wind will be the closest source of wind power for most of the Cape and Islands. Since the electricity produced by Cape Wind will enter the grid in the town of Barnstable, the power produced by the wind farm will be used on the Cape and Islands.
The electricity produced by Cape Wind will help offset the power from dirty fossil fuel plants located in New England.
NIMBY politics only feeds fossil fuel dependence
The steady winds that blow along the nation’s coastlines are an untapped wind energy resource that could reduce the need for coal, oil and natural gas. In fact, one group proposed placing enough windmills in Nantucket Sound to supply 75% of the Cape Cod area’s electricity needs.
That was nine years ago.
The battles since then vividly illustrate why wind energy still provides just one-half of 1% of the nation’s energy, and why all alternative energy accounts for less than 5%. Virtually everyone agrees that the country’s dependence on coal and foreign oil is destructive. But when the time arrives to actually do something, the response is too often "not here" or "not now."
Exhibit A is the project known as Cape Wind, which would build 130 huge wind turbines in about 25 square miles of ocean between Cape Cod and the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. Critics have raised objections about fishing, boating, aviation, federal subsidies, the price of wind energy and, most recently, the right of nearby Indian tribes to have an uninterrupted view of the morning sunrise. Some of the most bitter complaints seem to come from deep-pocketed landowners who don’t want to look at windmills.
Yes, the turbines would be visible, if distant, on the horizon. But the site is close to perfect for a wind farm — in shallow water that makes construction easier and cheaper, partially sheltered from North Atlantic storms and close enough to shore that transmission costs would be minimized. Critics want the turbines out to sea and out of sight, which would raise costs and require still-developing technology.
For years, the objections have had ample hearing before state and federal regulators, almost all of whom have approved Cape Wind or suggested simple ways to mitigate problems. This week, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is to meet with interested parties to work out an agreement. Failing a compromise, Salazar has hinted he’ll issue the final go-ahead.