Saying that global warming is “˜”˜the real thing, not science fiction,” U.S. Rep. William Delahunt is pushing wind power off the New England coast as an alternative to oil.
The Quincy Democrat will visit Germany in April to talk with government and industry officials about deep-water wind projects offshore, he told about 200 local executives yesterday. Germany leads the world in wind power capacity.
Delahunt will ask German experts to assess the feasibility of coastal sites in deep water here, he said. “˜”˜Wind is to New England what oil is to Saudi Arabia,” he said.
Delahunt, speaking at a South Shore Chamber of Commerce forum on energy at the Radisson Hotel in Rockland, urged business leaders to support development of new power sources not only to combat climate change but also to boost the local economy and reduce American dependence on Middle Eastern oil.
The need for oil fuels the war in Iraq, Delahunt said. Turning to alternative energy such as wind power and fuels made from waste products “˜”˜will create jobs … and environmental protection, and it keeps our kids out of harm’s way,” he said.
Delahunt has opposed the Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound. That site is in relatively shallow water about six miles south of Barnstable. Mark Forest, a spokesman for Delahunt, said Delahunt is concerned about the project’s impact on the environment there.
Delahunt also wants to wait for a division of the Interior Department to establish standards for offshore energy projects in federal waters, Forest said.
At least seven South Shore towns – Marshfield, Milton, Norwell, Hanover, Scituate, Kingston and Weymouth – are considering wind turbines on a smaller scale to provide power for municipal offices, streetlights, schools and possibly homes.
Hull, the first coastal town to build a windmill, operates two turbines and is planning four more. “˜”˜Hull is leading the way in terms of wind energy,” Delahunt said.
Kathleen Carrigan, general counsel for ISO New England, the overseer of the region’s power grid, said the region needs more power plants that are not fueled by natural gas. Reliance on gas-fired plants has led to “˜”˜roller-coaster electricity prices,” Carrigan said.
Stephen Gatto, chief executive of Norwell-based BioEnergy International LLC, said renewable energy projects could bring jobs to Massachusetts. Gatto’s firm is developing ethanol plants in Louisiana and Pennsylvania. Manufacturers now use corn and sorghum to make ethanol, but the company is looking at sources such as agricultural waste.
Massachusetts could provide research to support more energy technologies, Gatto said. “˜”˜We could launch 1,000 new businesses creating thousands of jobs,” he said.
By Sue Reinert
The Patriot Ledger
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