LOCE Wind and Wave Energy Weblog

The web's first ocean and offshore wind energy weblog. Continuously renewed, like the ocean itself.

Saturday, August 30, 2003

Environmentalist Joins Fight Against Cape Wind

As reported in Environmental Leader Joins Anti-Wind Farm Effort , Doreen Leggett, The Register (8/28/03):
a well-known environmental advocate who was instrumental in getting the land bank legislation passed for Cape Cod has joined the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound in its fight to stop the wind farm planned for Horseshoe Shoal.
Susan Nickerson, who headed the Association to Preserve Cape Cod for 10 years before going into environmental consulting, sees at least one corollary between efforts to protect open space on the Cape and those to protect the open waters of the Sound.

CapeWind Wins on Windtowers - for Now

This piece, Judge: Nothing Fishy About Cape Wind , Edward Maroney Barnstable Patriot (8/23/03) reports on Cape Wind's victory before Judge Tauro of the federal district court in Massachusetts who ruled that the state's authority to regulate fisheries in Nantucket Sound does not extend to controlling other activities there - such as the erection of the Cape Wind project.
However, the issue of whether state regulatory powers over fishing would allow it to veto the Cape Wind Project is only one issue in court and is separate from one being pursued by the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound . In that suit, the Alliance is claiming that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was in error when it permitted construction of the data tower, because Cape Wind had to demonstrate ownership of or the ability to own the location.

Two Change Course on Cape Wind Project

Like a woman, it's also a college's and former news anchor's perogative to change their respective minds - and these two did. As reported in College Accepts $100,000 Cape Wind Donation Orignally Rebuffed Because of Controversy, Glenn Ritt (8/28/03). According to the article

Cape Cod Community College has reversed itself, deciding to accept a $100,000 gift it originally rejected from the president of Cape Wind Associates because of his controversial wind farm proposal for Nantucket Sound. The college's earlier rebuff came just as Gov. Mitt Romney was cutting $94,000 from the very program designated to coordinate the gift from Jim Gordon. The state Legislature eventually voted to restore that money. The college's 180-degree shift came after a firestorm over its original refusal. Some education foundation board members complained that there was no precedent for the rejection and that the college lacked a clear policy on gifts. Subsequently, a policy was approved, and Gordon offered the college a second chance, college President Kathy Schatzberg reported.

Likewise, Walter Cronkite has also changed course on the Cape Wind Project as reported among other places, here (Vineyard Gazette - 8/29/03) and here. (Boston Globe 8/29/03).
According to these sources, Mr. Cronkite said he now prefers to be a more objective observer of both the process and project. Expressing some regret in a Boston Globe article by Stephanie Ebbert, Cronkite is quoted as saying:

"I must say, as [the wind farm] was presented to me, I had to clench my teeth to be sure I didn't get hysterical," Cronkite said in a phone interview. "It sounded like such a ghastly invasion of this wonderful body of water, which is Nantucket Sound. I will confess, also, that I did not do my own homework as I should have before making the statements. I did not and I can only regret that now."

Combined with a victory over its ability to site a test wind tower (reported above), it seems like a good week thus far for Cape Wind.

New Hope for Tidal Projects in South Wales

Wave of Optimism for Tidal Power Projects
, WesternMorningNews.co.uk (8/28/03), Andy Greenwood reports that the UK may reorganize its priorities for Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for South Wales which is necessary before wave and tidal energy projects can get the go-ahead. Right now, South Wales ranks at the bottom of the list of regions due for an SEA despite the fact that it offers some of the best opportunities in Europe to generate electricity form wave power and tidal streams. Renewable development is also expected to create hundreds of jobs in the region.

Two In-Depth Articles on Wind Power, Need for Power, Conservation and How Hard It Is To Get It All Right

In the wake of the blackout, the last week of August brings two in-depth pieces on wind power and the constant tension between increased demand for power and a commensurate aversion to conservation or additional plant (or transmission line) construction. In

Wind Power's New Current
, Scott Kirsner, New York Times (8/27/03), Kirsner reports that despite controversies with large wind projects (Exhibit 1 being CapeWind),

Utilities and independent developers are nonetheless moving ahead with plans to increase the generating capacity of older installations and establish new wind farms. Michael O'Sullivan, a senior vice president at FPL Energy, the biggest domestic operator of wind farms, said that 2003 "will probably be the second-biggest year in the industry's history, in terms of adding capacity," exceeded only by 2001.

As the country's electrical demand continues to rise, adding capacity is of keen interest. And the power derived from wind is power that a town like Princeton does not need to buy from sources that rely on coal-burning generators or nuclear plants.

And in Who's Got the Power?, Christian Science Monitor, 8/28/03
Mary Wiltenburg writes about the difficulty of making good choices to the energy shortage. For example, while conservation remains an option, people like driving SUVs and often, simply "forget" to conserve energy by turning off lights, etc...As for proposals like CapeWind, Wittenburg uses these as an example of other obstacles to solving energy shortages - even where a power source apparently poses no health risks, it still may face opposition for other reasons

The Cape Wind controversy isn't about the environmental issues under debate, argues University of Delaware environmental anthropologist Willet Kempton, "it's about how people think about intrusions into their community."

Alan Nogee, director of the energy program at the nonprofit Union of Concerned Scientists, agrees. "People have always preferred to avoid energy projects in their own backyards - most of the time for pretty good reasons: because of harmful emissions from these facilities," he says. Because Cape Wind poses no human health risk, Mr. Nogee says opposition to the project is probably the product of NIMBY, or "not in my backyard," syndrome.

Maybe so, says Isaac Rosen, executive director of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, but "without NIMBYism, the Love Canal, the Hudson [River], wouldn't have gotten cleaned up. Sometimes it's the capacity of a community to stand up and say, 'No, we treasure this too much,' that defines that community."

Of course, if the solutions were easy, we probably wouldn't have experienced last week's blackout and would already have figured out what to do to fix the problem for the future.

BlueWater Wind, A Competitor in the LIPA RFP, in the News

Here's a piece by Brian Haines, zwire.com (8/27/03) profiling Blue Water Wind Power and its president Peter Mandelstam. Bluewater Wind is a subsidiary of Arcadia and is one of the competitors for the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) offshore RFP. According to the article, Mandelstam, a longtime advocate for wind originally brought the concept of offshore wind to the attention of LIPA back in 1999.

Winergy Proposed Farm Meets Little Opposition in Virginia

This article Windmill Farm Plan Meets Little Opposition on Eastern Shore (8/25/03) gives an update on the Winergy offshore windfarm proposal for off the coast of Virgina. As the article reports, in contrast to the Capewind project, Winergy's proposal
is receiving a kinder, quieter reception -- to the point that sponsors of the clean-energy projects think they might have their best shot for approval in Virginia.

The article notes another aspect of the Winergy project that distinguishes it from Capewind. Here, according to company official Bob Link

[Winergy] would likely sell its permit if one is granted, leaving a utility developer to build the windmills, lay the connection cables and sell the power. The project is expected to cost close to $500 million.

Still, opposition or not, there's no shortening the environmental review process for the proposed project which will still require at least a year to examine all of the project impacts and lead to issuance of necessary authorizations.