Energy Policy and Massachusetts
Environmentalists have been promising for more than three decades that wind energy would be competitive if there was a "level playing field," but it survives only because the field has been tilted in its favor.
CRITICS OF PROPOSED US offshore wind farms have recently lauded efforts to develop deep-water offshore wind energy technologies that would allow wind farms to be built far from shore. They suggest that advances in research and development are proceeding at such a rapid pace that thousands of wind turbines could soon be operating off the northeast coast without encroaching on anyone's view or posing any threat to the environment. Clarification about the current state and potential of deep-water offshore wind energy appears timely.
Unless Massachusetts residents take on the challenge, they will see millions of dollars transferred from their pockets through higher prices for electricity and taxes to the pockets of companies that own wind farms. Billions of capital investment dollars will be spent on projects that produce tiny amounts of electricity, electricity that is unreliable and low in quality and value.
These examples show that offshore wind technology is advancing so rapidly that sacrificing Nantucket Sound for a project like the one currently being proposed is shortsighted. In the near future, the public could get the same benefits from building an offshore wind plant farther out to sea with far fewer negative impacts, and at the same time avoid being saddled with what may well become an obsolete technology.
"..I urge MMS to wait until it establishes guidelines to all offshore wind projects before it acts upon an individual project, such as Cape Wind. In my opinion, the review of this project at this time would make little sense and would undermine the goal of developing comprehensive guidelines that establish the specific criteria for reviewing such projects, including those that specifically protect the interests of any state affected by the project.
Is it all worth it? We need to bridle our inherent optimism for emerging technology with lessons learned from the past.