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Cape Cod wind farm debate


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I agree with a Herald editorial, the end of the world must finally be upon us!

actually, this is the third Herald editorial I've read today that I've agreed with! :blink:

Cape contradiction doesn't hold water

By Thomas Keane Jr.

Friday, December 19, 2003

There's a whiff of environmental dissembling in the salt air of Cape Cod.

The mightily aggrieved Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound tells us that Cape Wind's plans to install 130 wind turbines would destroy the fragile coastal environment, ruining views, damaging property values and depressing the Cape's tourist industry. At the same time, many of the same aggrieved citizens protest plans for a flyover bridge to replace the Sagamore Rotary, fearing a new influx of tourists would overwhelm the Cape's limited resources.

Note the contradiction: Opponents claim to want tourists on the Cape but apparently don't want them to have a way to get there.

More importantly, note how both arguments have been framed in environmental terms.

There's a good reason for that. Not only is being green axiomatically a good thing in today's world, but federal and state environmental regulations are so strong that they can be easily exploited to delay and stop.

In fact, though, the environmental merits of both projects run the opposite way.

Indeed, one would think a proposal to generate 420 megawatts of electricity from wind would be an environmental slam-dunk. Wind doesn't cause global warming, it doesn't create air pollution and it doesn't consume non-renewable resources such as fossil fuels. And this isn't some trivial project: Once in place, Cape Wind would supply electricity for three-quarters of the Cape.

The Sagamore project is also an environmental boon. Anyone who visits the Cape knows the problem the rotary creates. Since Massachusetts law requires those entering a rotary to yield, traffic backs up, waiting for an opening. Jams are a constant virtually any time during the summer, and at certain times, such as weekends and evenings, they are horrendous, with stopped traffic stretching five or six miles back. It is so nightmarish that those going on or off Cape plan their entire trip around the commute. The cost - in time, wasted fuel and pollution from idling cars - is enormous. With $15 billion recently spent to improve things a bit on the Central Artery in Boston, the $35 million flyover seems a bargain.

So what's really at issue here? Sure, some opponents have raised reasonable - and addressable - concerns. But to a troubling degree, there seems to be another agenda at play: It's a battle of the rich against the hoi polloi, those who got vs. those who want.

A wind farm makes eminent good sense if you think of the Cape as a place in which to live. Increasingly, that is what it is becoming. Where once the year-round population was small - only 70,000 in 1960 - now it is over 220,000.

And a Sagamore flyover also makes eminent sense if you want to make the Cape open and accessible to all, a place that can be easily reached by ordinary folks who enjoy the beauty and pleasures of the peninsula: its slower pace, stunning views, and the quaint towns and villages that dot its length.

But neither makes sense if your mission is to keep the place as your own personal playground.

Much of the recent history of the Cape can be seen as a battle between a moneyed leisure class and everyone else. That was true in the 1960s, with the controversial creation of the Cape Cod National Seashore.

The new park wiped out commercial and residential use of large stretches of land for the benefit of a leisure class - notably the Kennedys - who were already there.

And that same leisure class, with ever more money and ever more expensive homes along the coast, is what drives efforts today to keep others out.

Listen to some of those with second homes on the Cape and you can hear the real worry: The riff-raff is moving in.


One of the most extraordinary and positive changes in American society has been the rise of its middle class.

That middle class has the wealth and income to live a life that a generation or two ago was only available to the rich. It is that middle class which now descends upon the Cape, rubbing shoulders with the wealthy.

None of this is to deny that the Cape faces some significant infrastructure issues.

Most of the Cape relies on groundwater aquifers which face depletion. Many of the secondary roads throughout its many miles are antiquated, producing nightmarish jams all because one car can't find space to make a left turn.

The proper role of environmentalism, however, should be to solve these problems by improving infrastructure and encouraging sensible development, not by shutting people out.

True, a few of the rich may find their solitude disturbed.

But the rest of us are sick of being told we should go to Disney World for our vacations.

From The Boston Herald

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I support both the flyover and the wind farm. These towns need relief from insane traffic tie ups and the Cape as a whole needs a source of clean electricity. Also I think the Bourne and Sandwich areas will be greatly improved by the eventual demise of the coal fired power plant on Scusset Beach.

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The flyover debate is silly. Sandwich already is a suburb of Boston with the rotary, keeping it will change nothing. As for development increasing... With the rotary the Cape is already rapidly approaching build-out, there's just not enough land left for this to be a concern. Keeping the rotary is a poor growth-control tool. With the traffic problems the Cape is already the fastest growing section of the state, the rotary is not impeding development. The Cape's towns need to use the full power of the Cape Cod Commission to steer growth in smart ways.

The safety concerns are bogus, the rotary on the south side was removed decades ago and the Mid-Cape Highway feeds straight onto the bridge without stopping, without problems. Anyone who has ever driven on either bridge knows that the bridge itself makes traffic slow down. The Bourne Bridge also has 3 lanes of 495 feeding straight into it's 2 lanes and there is not a problem. The one thing I would like to see though, is rail service returned to the Cape. The flyover will not erase the Cape's traffic woes. Rail service combined with an efficient shuttle system in Hyannis could convince a lot of day trippers from Boston to leave their cars at home, it could even open up an entire untapped market of Bostonians who don't own cars and do not now visit the Cape.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Tower lifts Falmouth's power hopes


STAFF WRITER January 8, 2004

WEST FALMOUTH - Next week, officials will raise a test tower 130 feet above the West Falmouth wastewater treatment plant - the first step in a process that could save the town $200,000 a year in utility bills.

Yesterday, crews from the University of Massachusetts Renewable Energy Research Laboratory plotted areas where guy wires will hold the 6-inch diameter pole in place. For the next nine to 10 months, the tower will measure wind speeds.

If the site is found acceptable, Falmouth may become the first Upper Cape town to build a wind turbine. Eastham, Harwich, Orleans and Barnstable are also considering using wind energy.

The electricity generated by the site would power the treatment facility, monthly electricity bills for which run between $12,000 to $16,000 , said town engineer Gaetano Calise.

The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, along with UMass, will run Falmouth's feasibility study, provide the tower and expertise and create a business plan at no cost to the town.

Those costs could add up to $100,000 if the town had to do it alone, said Greg Watson, vice president for sustainable development and renewable energy at MTC.

The feasibility study will also determine whether it is worth it for towns that use a private utility provider to generate their own power, Watson said. Hull, an example of a town using a turbine to its benefit, has a municipally owned power grid.

Aside from the economic aspects of the project, Calise said the town will have to consider Federal Aviation Administration requirements because of its proximity to Otis Air Base.

"We may end up putting a strobe light on top, and that may not go over good with the citizens," Calise said. "Nothing's in concrete."

Before spring, Barnstable will install test towers at its water pollution control center in Hyannis, said Mark Ellis of the department of public works. Last year, the town approved a $1.85 million plan to build three turbines at the site.

Orleans, with the help of MTC, put up a 165-foot tower at its 500-acre water treatment facility.

If the data collected continues to be as promising as it has been so far, the town could vote on installing a permanent turbine at the May 2005 town meeting, planning director George Merservey said.

Harwich has had a test tower at its landfill since February. The town may sell the power back to the utility company as a revenue source, said Brian Braginton-Smith, the chief executive officer for Community Wind Group, consultants for the Harwich project.

"We should see wind turbines up and turning by the end of 2004 (on the South Shore of Massachusetts)," he said.

"Everyone is very excited about the idea of being able to utilize local resources. Everyone sort of realizes that we have an obligation to do it."

Calise cautioned that the study is just the first step in the process for Falmouth. Even though the selectmen and town employees support the effort, it has to pass muster with the citizens when it comes to backing the project with money.

In January and February, the energy committee will send out surveys to the neighbors of the project who will be able to see the tower over the treeline, town officials said. The committee will then create education sessions based on local concerns.

Power project

  • The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, with UMass, will launch a feasibility study, provide the test tower and expertise and create a business plan at no cost to the town, with the goal of building a wind turbine.

  • The 6-foot-wide tower will be raised 130 feet above the West Falmouth wastewater treatment plant and measure wind speeds over the next nine to 10 months.

  • The electricity from the turbine could power the treatment plant and could save the town $200,000 a year in utility bills.

From The Cape Cod Times

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I like windfarms for their clean energy. They can be pretty ugly and rather loud believe it or not. Offshore farms probably make a lot of sense. Althouh the effect on wildlife is largely unknown, offshore oil faciities actually seem to be a haven for fish and other sea life.

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I got pretty close to the windfarms outside Palm Springs CA and they weren't very noisy and have a strange sort of beauty. The people in Hull aren't exactly bothered by them either but I wouldn't want them close to homes. I'd like to see alot more of them in Boston Harbor.

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I like wind farms simply because they provide clean energy. Why burn nonrenewable resources like oil and coal to provide power when the wind is everywhere? And those fossil fuel plants put some nasty toxins into the air. I got close to some wind farms a couple of years ago when I was in Nebraska and South Dakota. There wasn't much noise associated with the wind farms (or at least not that I could tell). We do have to be careful where we put them though...they shouldn't be too close to where people are living.

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Newer technologies mean that wind farms are not as noisy as they were a decade ago. The Cape is in a unique situation with it's geography. The way it sticks 30 miles out into the ocean means that it is one of the best areas in the country for wind generation, and being in the Northeast means that it is a high density population area much in need of power generation.

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  • 6 months later...

Wind farm opponents blasted by 'greens'

By Jack Meyers

Monday, July 12, 2004

The environmental group leading the fight against a Cape Cod wind farm is itself facing criticism from other "green'' organizations for its leadership's ties to polluters and energy giants.

The nonprofit Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound was founded three years ago to battle a proposal to put 130 giant wind turbines on Horseshoe Shoals by a company called Cape Wind.

"It is an environmental organization and has an environmental agenda,'' said Ernie Corrigan, a spokesman for the Alliance.

Others do not agree and point to the Alliance's president, Douglas Yearley, as Exhibit A.

For a dozen years, Yearley, who owns a waterfront home in Osterville, has been on the board of Marathon Oil, an energy giant. This spring, the company was tagged with the label ``Clean Air Villain of the Month'' by Washington D.C.-based Clean Air Trust.

Until 2000, Yearley ran the international mining firm Phelps Dodge, one of the largest polluters in Arizona and New Mexico.

In 2002 and 2003, John O'Brien, an Alliance director, was one of the most vocal opponents of the wind farm. He also was working for a lobbying company, which had Sithe Energy, the owner of several fossil fuel power plants in Massachusetts, as a client.

Recently, the Alliance hired the lobbying outfit Loeffler, Jonas and Tuggey, based in Texas. The firm also represents the government of Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil producer.

The Alliance itself received one of the Dirty Dozen Awards from the Toxics Action Center in 2002, for using ``misrepresentations'' in its campaign against the project.

Matt Wilson, director of Toxics Action Center, said the Alliance ``is not being funded by the environmental movement. The people (at the Alliance) that are fighting this wind farm . . . are essentially self-interested businessmen.''

Bill Eddy, a minister on the Cape and activist with Clean Power Now, is highly critical of the Alliance.

"They had succeeded in making half the people on the Cape afraid'' of a nonpolluting source of as much as 70 percent of Cape Cod's electricity, he said.

Corrigan said, "the environmental community is split'' on the wind farm. He said there are well-regarded environmentalists, including Alliance director Susan Nickerson, who support wind energy but oppose this location.

Regarding Yearley, Corrigan said, "His opposition to this project is (simple). It offends him that this would be built in Nantucket Sound.''

From The Boston Herald

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Guest donaltopablo

I wish they had mass transit in the cape. When I got to PTown I find myself driving all the way up there, just to park my car and never look at it again. Same with many of the other areas I visit. Build a train or even a worthwhile bus from Providence and/or Boston and I guarantee you there will be one less car visiting the cape.

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I wish they had mass transit in the cape.

It's coming, very slowly. The problem with transit on the Cape is that though it is quite densely populated and quite urban in areas, it has a very suburban development style. The majority of homes are seperated and isolated from the business districts. Mixed use development is nearly unheard of.

There are some first steps being taken in Hyannis (the Cape's main village) to create a more mixed use urban core. Zoning regulations on use and parking are proving to be a stumbling block, and the town council is trying to make it over those hurdles. In the next 10 years, we'll see Hyannis have a healthy population of people living downtown, and while not completely car-free, they will be able to do most of their daily tasks without cars within the village centre.

The islands have rather good shuttle systems. It is becoming really difficult for Nantucket and the Vineyard to handle the amount of cars that want to come over. We should see a quota system on cars being transported to the islands soon (especially Nantucket). Limiting the number of cars will increase use and efficiency of the islands' transit systems.

Provincetown of course is very dense and very urban. There are ferries from Boston and buses from Boston and Providence, as well as air service from as far afield as New York to Provincetown. Provincetown has been improving it's area bus system over the last several years, and recently introduced improved connections between the airport, downtown, and the National Seashore.

As for rail, there is a small but growing group of people pushing to bring rail back to the Cape. There was limited service via Amtrak to New York in the 80s, that was successful on it's limited schedule. The MBTAs Old Colony commuter rail service makes it as far as Middleborough and it wouldn't take much to extend that service over the canal and onto the Cape. There are concerns about the conditions of the tracks limiting speed, and also the large number of grade crossings presenting a safety hazards. There is also a grade crossing in Hyannis that many would like to see be put underground, which of course brings sugnificant cost to the project. The MBTA is currently mired down in NIMBYism with it's Greenbush commuter rail line. NIMBY demands have greatly increased the cost of the line. I think the T fears that the Cape may prove to have similar NIMBYs and is worried about being mired in another mess. The rail line goes through some of the wealthiest neighbourhoods on the Cape's north side.

New Bedford and Fall River are looking to get their own commuter rail service. South Coast politicians will not allow the Cape to cut in line on this, so the Cape's probably still got quite a bit of a wait.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Provincetown seeks wind tower


PROVINCETOWN - The Cape's outermost town is the latest municipality to explore the environmental and economic benefits of wind energy.

Provincetown officials are moving forward with a plan to erect a temporary meteorological tower at the Race Point Road transfer station.

The 130-foot tower would stand for a year from the time it is built, gauging wind speeds and collecting data to determine if the area is suitable for power-producing wind turbines.

Cape Cod National Seashore officials must approve the plan because the landfill is on property that was deeded to Provincetown with certain use restrictions, including the prohibition of structures taller than 30 feet.

But project and local officials say they are optimistic the Seashore will sign off on the proposal, and that a tower will be built before the end of summer.

"I want to see it up as soon as we can get it up," said Provincetown Selectman Sarah Peake, a renewable energy supporter.

After a year of data collection, town officials will decide whether to consider erecting one or more wind turbines at a site to be determined.

"I have been one of the outspoken advocates on the board of selectmen for exploring a wind turbine," Peake said. Town officials have already contacted the Seashore to discuss the tower, she said.

She and other project boosters are encouraged by a mandate requiring the federal park to explore renewable energy alternatives.

Selectmen have not yet considered what Provincetown might do with power generated from a wind turbine, which could be sold to energy companies for revenue or utilized by the town.

"We as a board haven't discussed that yet," Peake said.

The landfill site might be appropriate, but officials could decide to place a turbine elsewhere in the windswept town, said Sally Wright, a research fellow at the Renewable Energy Research Laboratory at UMass-Amherst who is working with Provincetown officials on the plan.

"We have not discussed where they want to put the wind turbine," said Wright, a power-generation equipment specialist.

Unlike Cape Wind's controversial offshore wind farm proposal for Nantucket Sound, several Cape towns, including Barnstable, Bourne, Eastham, Falmouth, Harwich and Orleans, have either erected data towers or are considering them as a first step in investigating the feasibility of land-based turbines.

With a steady, year-round supply of wind, particularly on the Outer Cape, the region is considered a prime location for just such an initiative.

A construction date for the tower has not been set. Besides Seashore approval, the town also must secure all requisite permits to ensure the structure is legal, Wright said.

It usually takes about two days to erect a tower. The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, work- ing with Wright and UMass lab officials, will loan Provincetown the materials for the tower and build the structure.

They also will provide operational expertise and create a business plan at no cost to the town. However, minimal in-kind assistance is often required of towns, Wright said.

Installing a turbine, including the foundation and electrical connections, costs between $1.2 million and $1.5 million per megawatt. And with typical turbines ranging from .66 to 1.8 megawatts, Provincetown could spend between $2 million and $2.5 million per turbine, Wright said.

"The equipment pays for itself, and then it makes money," she said.

For more on wind turbines, go online to www.ceere.org

From The Cape Cod Times

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  • 6 months later...

State jurisdiction in Sound expands



A new federal survey will expand state jurisdiction over Nantucket Sound, carving more than 12 square miles of water from federal oversight.

A series of rock formations located miles from the Yarmouth shore will now qualify as the state's coastal edge, extending the state's territorial boundary into the Sound, including an area where Cape Wind Associates wants to build its wind turbines.

Federal officials say review of state-federal jurisdiction is part of a national coastline survey, and has nothing to do with the Cape Wind project.

It could, however, have an effect on numerous activities in Nantucket Sound, including fisheries and transportation.

And Cape Wind will likely have to move about 10 of its proposed 130 wind turbines out of state waters, or be subjected to tougher state scrutiny.

While numerous state officials oppose the wind farm plan, including Gov. Mitt Romney, the state has had limited oversight.

The principal reviewer currently is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. And since 2001, Cape Wind officials have said that's the way it should be since the project would sit entirely in federal waters.

Yesterday, Cape Wind officials said the redrawn state boundary map is no big deal.

There are ways to deal with the new map, said Mark Rodgers, a company spokesman. Among those is moving some of the turbines out of state waters.

"It's a small part of the proposed area," Rodgers said yesterday. "I think there would be several options."

Opponents of the wind farm say the expansion of state jurisdiction - coming three years into the Cape Wind review - reflects a fundamental flaw in the permitting process.

"For three years they've been trying to permit in our waters," said Cliff Carroll of Bass River, a mortgage broker and critic of the wind farm. "They should have to face local scrutiny."

Carroll said the new boundary shows the need for an extended federal review, and a tougher state review.

Cape Wind wants to build 130 wind turbines on Horseshoe Shoal, a 24-square-mile area on Nantucket Sound.

Next week, the Army Corps is expected to close a public comment period on the Cape Wind project.

National process

Last fall, a team of state and federal officials, including the Minerals Management Service, surveyed the waters of Nantucket Sound as part of a continuing national review of maritime boundaries.

They looked at several rock formations, deeming whether they could qualify as "drying rocks," which are essentially boundary markers. Beyond such markers the state is granted three miles into the water.

To qualify, a rock would have to be exposed at mean low water (the average low tide taken from all low tides); it must be a natural structure, not man-made; and it should be within three nautical miles of mainland, Meredith Westington, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's office of coastal survey, told the Times last summer.

While surveying Bishop and Clerks rocks off Gammon Point in Yarmouth, the team also noticed Bull Rock, a tall rocky formation located even farther offshore. State officials believed that should qualify as the state's coastal edge, thus extending state waters more than three miles farther into the Sound.

Another rock formation, called Collier Ledge, off Centerville, was deemed man-made and did not qualify as a "drying rock."

A week ago, the Massachusetts Highway Department submitted its application for a redrawn state-federal water boundary map, said Jonathan Carlisle, a department spokesman.

It would be the first time the boundary has changed in years. "It's not done very often because it's not something that usually comes up," Carlisle said.

"Usually the borders are what they are."

Final word will come from the Minerals Management Service, or MMS, which is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Gary Strasburg, media relations director for the MMS, said the service will announce a new local boundary in the coming days.

But he declined to speculate what impact the new lines would have on the proposed 130-turbine wind farm.

"The effect is moving federal waters," he said. "Whether extending state waters has some effect on where the farm will be somebody else's determination."

More state say

Yesterday, state officials said a map change will have some effect on the Cape Wind proposal.

Currently, state jurisdiction over the project is limited to the underwater cables that would deliver power from the turbines to the shore, said Joe O'Keefe, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs.

If any turbines were to be built in state waters, however, state oversight would become far more involved, he said.

Even if Cape Wind chooses to move those turbines to keep them all in federal waters, the company will have to file a change-in-plan document with the state, he said.

The added review, he said, will depend on how great the changes are.

Tim Dugan, a spokesman for the Army Corps, said the change in the state-federal water boundaries will not affect the Corps' review.

"If it's not a major change (in the proposal), the impacts would not likely change," Dugan said. "Because at this point we're still looking at the bigger picture."

From The Cape Cod Time

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  • 11 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Listened to a really good Science Friday yesterday on NPR about energy issues.


Toward the end of the program a woman from Upstate NY calls in complaining about the latest wind farm proposal there. The guest on the show, an energy expert, said that people (like her) want their energy cheap, plentiful, secure, and out of sight. Those days are over and all those anti-wind NIMBYs need to get a little reality.

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A Boston developer wants to build a $750 million offshore wind farm with 90 to 120 turbines in Buzzards Bay, a proposal that would dramatically alter the appearance of the ecologically sensitive waterway, The Standard-Times reported today.

What's with the biased reporting? That was from the first link. It will benefit all of New England, which is nearing an energy crisis California style. Given that the Cape is a liberal, environmentalist stronghold I am very angry at the hypocrisy here. You can't have it both ways. These are the same people who are among those who oppose drilling in ANWR (which Alaskans approve of). What are we going to do for electricity?

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What's with the biased reporting?

I think that quote is from the New Bedford Standard-Times and was simply picked up by the ProJo blog. Here's the Standard-Times story:

Vast wind farm proposed. Fairhaven and Dartmouth eyed for major offshore energy project. [New Bedford Standard-Times]

I know the Cape Cod Times has a reputation for being extremely opposed to the Nantucket Sound windfarm. I'm not sure why the N.B. Standard-Times would oppose a farm in Buzzards Bay. The cables will likely run to New Bedford, and the headquaters for the farm will likely be in New Bedford, seems like a big win for the New Bedford economy, which frankly doesn't have much going for it at the moment.

Romney is opposed to the Nantucket Sound windfarm but is quoted as being 'intrigued' by this one. :unsure: Lot's of republican check writers on the Cape, not so much in New Bedford.

Part of this proposal would be off Naushon Island, which is owned by the Forbes family, which John Kerry's family tree branches off of.

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