The Wind Farm: A Discussion




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The Event



On Wednesday, August 15, 2007, the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History presented The Wind Farm: A Discussion.

Featured speakers were Jim Gordon, president of Cape Wind, and Charles Vinick, CEO of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. The moderator was Allen Larson, president of the Cape Cod Center for Sustainability.

The photographs in the
Gallery were taken by Ben Nugent,, during the discussion.


The Cape Cod Community Media Center (C3TV, Channel 17 in the mid-Cape area), will be broadcasting the recording of the discussion in October. 








Afterword: The Need for Fresh Air, October 2008




Moderator's Report, September 2007






A Newspaper Event Recap


Rich Eldred, "Forum Points Up Pros, Cons of Cape Wind," Cape Codder, August 18, 2007: "Brewster—Why Nantucket Sound? Some people are still asking that question six years after Cape Wind proposed a wind farm for Horseshoe Shoals smack in the middle of the Sound." (continued)



Projected Wind Farm Completion Timeline


The wind farm is presently in the permitting process, which will run through 2008.

If the permits are granted turbine manufacturing and construction will proceed from 2008 through 2010.



Additional Resources

Sustainable Energy Advantage:  "Since 1998, Sustainable Energy Advantage, LLC, has helped private, public, and nonprofit organizations develop opportunities for clean, renewable sources of energy, including wind, solar, hydroelectric, biomass, and geothermal power, in competitive wholesale and retail electricity markets.  By providing analysis and support on multiple frontsstrategy, policy, marketing, negotiation, product development, and pricingSustainable Energy Advantage helps its clients develop the building blocks of a sustainable energy future: wholesale and retail renewable electricity businesses; public policies such as Renewable Portfolio Standards and incentive programs; rules of the road for electricity markets; and certification and rating programs.



Federal Agency Responsible for Wind Farm Oversight


The federal agency that is presently preparing the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) is the U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS).  Their project summary page is here, and it includes a link people can use to register any comments they may want to put on the record.



Discussion Questions for Cape Wind and the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound


The following questions were submitted to the speakers by the audience members. 

If it came to a choice between Cape Wind and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which would you choose?

What would Rachel Carson [exhibit currently on display at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History] think of Cape Wind?

Mr. Vinick, if you were to name your most significant objection to the Cape Wind project, what would that be (only one)?

Mr. Gordon, if you were to name your most significant reason for Cape Wind to proceed, what would that be (only one)?

Mr. Gordon, where are you going to locate your building infrastructure— survey boats, crew boats, work boats, tugs, barges, cranes, pile drivers, and stock yards? And what danger to the Sound’s marine traffic will they constitute?

Mr. Gordon, as a developer, you say “we.”  Who are your investors, foreign and local?

Mr. Gordon, why would you select a national park that we all own and share for free as the site for your project?  Why should we give you 24 square miles of Nantucket Sound for free?

Mr. Gordon, your project is larger than Manhattan and larger than Yarmouth, and it will make the Boston “Big Dig” look like Tinker Toys with no benefit.  Why not Otis Air Force Base?

Mr. Gordon, why has not one Cape Cod community publicly supported Cape Wind in writing?

Mr. Gordon, why not build wind farms on currently undevelopable lands such as state highway medians, which are already graded, highly accessible, and currently useless instead of building in pristine, highly prized recreational areas?

Mr. Gordon, how much will you dig up, and where will you move the Sound benthic substrate that is to be displaced by tower and substation pilings, wire trenches, and so on? What degree of bottom-dwelling and substrate animals will be affected?

Mr. Gordon, after Horseshoe Shoals, have you considered the Billingsgate Shoal?

Cape Wind claims that this electricity will be cheaper.  Experts say that the Long Island wind plan will be four times the current cost of electricity. Why is Cape Wind refusing to tell us the true cost?

Is there common ground between the proponents and opponents of Cape Wind?  Recognizing the existing energy crisis and the natural beauty of the Cape, is there a place to locate the wind farm where both sides can agree?

Cape Wind has refused to release the five years of wind data.  Why should we believe the 10 days of information they released is accurate?  Why are they afraid to release data?

Nantucket Sound and our beaches are the economic engine and the heart and soul of the Cape and Islands.  Why would a 24-square-mile industrial plant with 40,000 gallons of oil be good for Cape Cod ?

How dirty is the Sandwich power plant?  Will this wind power help us to get rid of the Sandwich power plant?

Will Cape Wind be compensating the mobile gear fishermen that will forever lose the ability to fish on the rich Horseshoe Shoals fishing grounds?

Please address the point that wind turbines are “yesterday’s technology.”

Assuming that turbines are installed in the Sound, what assurance do we have that when they are obsolete, they will be removed and not left to rust in the water?  I come from Buffalo, New York, where Bethlehem Steel abandoned 15 square miles of steel plant.

Mr. Gordon, you are probably aware that only 2 percent of oil is used for electricity nationally.  Why do you continue to claim that your project will reduce our dependence on oil for electricity?

Mr. Gordon, Cape Wind energy will mostly be sold to the highest bidder. What does that have to do with the Cape’s population and with our air quality—which is poor due to westerly winds coming from New York City? Also, I have been to the Danish coast—it is a nice place—but do you seriously compare its recreation usage and tourism to that of Cape Cod?

Would Cape Wind reduce the need for natural gas in producing electricity on Cape Cod?

If federal and state earmarks and grants and subsidies, which amount to $75 million a year, stop, is your project economically and commercially viable?

What is the life expectancy for the hardware initially installed?  When and how will it be removed?  What are the foreseen environmental impacts due to the maintenance and/or removal of the equipment?

What percentage of power remains on Cape Cod?  And what percentage is exported?

Why can’t the windmills be farther out in the bay?

Cape Wind’s oil spill chart shows that in the event the 40,000 gallons of transformer oil spills, there is a “greater than 90 percent chance that our beaches will be polluted.”  Why isn’t Cape Wind mapping the habitat that would be destroyed?

Specifics please:  How many turbines?  How big is the substation? How far off-shore? Are they visible?

Who is the Beacon Hill Institute, and who paid for the study that Charles Vinick cited?

Can Cape Cod residents be assured that they will benefit from the wind farm in the form of reduced utility bills or a stake in the profits?

Mr. Gordon, you’ve claimed that much of the Horseshoe Shoals area is not navigable due to shallow water, so putting 130 turbines there will not interfere with boating.  If that’s true, how are you going to avoid dredging out large swaths of the sea floor to accommodate the wind turbine installation barges, which I understand are 400 feet long and draw up to 16 feet of water?

This question assumes that during the past six years of this debate, you have actually listened to what the other side has said.  Please name one point that your opponent makes that you think makes sense and that you agree with.  Please be sincere and specific with your answer.

Mr. Vinick, what power-generating alternatives do you recommend?  If the shoals of Nantucket Sound were to be used to generate electric power, what do you recommend?

Mr. Gordon, are there devices that can use wave action to generate power?  What are they?  How much power can they generate?  How well do they compare to windmills?

Mr. Vinick, in what way would a wind farm damage fishing in the Sound?

Mr. Gordon, is a decommissioning fund required if the wind turbines are no longer usable?

Mr. Gordon, your opponents claim Cape Wind will receive massive “subsidies.”  Please put the subsidies  you will receive in perspective versus fossil fuel and nuclear benefits [that are similarly available] from the government. For example, will you receive subsidies for construction?

Since the Massachusetts Maritime Academy is able to generate its own power and sell the extra to the “grid,” will the Cape Wind Nantucket Sound project power go first to the Cape and Islands [with whatever is left over being sold] to the grid?  If not, why not?

Mr. Gordon, European wind farms have not been subjected to hurricane force winds. What assurances can you make that the proposed design will be able to withstand force 5 and greater winds?

Mr. Gordon, why are you reluctant to disclose the financial backers of this project?

Would each of you comment on the studies that show significant radar distortion with windmills and how this distortion will affect aviation as well as maritime safety?

Mr. Gordon, will the coal and gas fired power plants go away when the Cape Wind farm is up and running?

Mr. Gordon, if Cape Wind is successful in building this project, would or might your company advance proposals on deep-water-sited wind farms and/or current tidal flow water turbines?

Mr. Vinick, if you are successful in stopping the wind farm, would you support an expansion of the Canal power plant to generate the power needed in the future for the Cape and Islands?

Mr. Gordon, in your comments, you were totally silent on the economic factors of this project.  Please tell us the following:  How much private capital will Cape Wind put up?  How much public subsidy does Cape Wind need or expect to receive in order to construct the 130 wind turbines?  How much private profit does Cape Wind expect to receive from these turbines funded in large part by public subsidy?

Mr. Gordon, how much lower will energy bills be for the average Cape Codder as a result of the wind farm?

I understand that your company is proposing to build a diesel plant in Chelsea that seems to contradict your claims about dedication to helping the environment.  How do you reconcile this, and do groups like Greenpeace support your diesel plant?

Mr. Gordon, is your company working on any deep-water wind technology? How deep is deep water?

What is the likely impact of Cape Wind on the cost of electrical power for the average customer?

Mr. Gordon, if this project were made to be a project awarded by a competitive process, would you still be interested, or are you interested only because you were given a competitive advantage?

What monetary gains will the Cape receive—that is, [will there be] lower electric rates [on Cape Cod]?

Mr. Gordon, you mention “jobs creation” as a major economic benefit for the Cape.  Would you please be specific regarding the types of jobs, pay scales, and so on [you are referring to]?

Will the wind farm be funded so that it can be dismantled and the Sound returned to its original state when [the wind farm] becomes obsolete?

How do you think we can bring together the opposing forces on this issue to achieve the common good for our shared future?