The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound has hired a company to explore sites for offshore wind farms.
Yes, that’s correct: the most vocal and visible opponent of a 130-turbine wind farm in Nantucket Sound is shelling out money to assess the viability of wind farms off the coast of Massachusetts and other states.
Alliance officials say the move is in keeping with the group’s position that wind power must be developed but that Nantucket Sound is simply the wrong place to do it. It’s also an acknowledgement, they said, that the Alliance must move beyond its role as naysayer to one of the most controversial projects in Cape Cod history.
“The Alliance has moved from “Just not Cape Wind” to “If not Cape Wind, then what?'” said Susan Nickerson, executive director of the Alliance. “There is a commitment by the board for it to be a win/win solution.”
In an editorial board meeting with The Register, Nickerson and Charles Vinick, president and CEO of the Alliance, declined to name the hired company but said the firm is exploring issues like water depth, distance from shore and navigational concerns to see what sites might be possible for development. Such development could take place under many scenarios, including the possibility of a small pilot project.
They even floated the possibility that Cape Wind, as a wind power developer, could play a part in those other projects.
“If it’s going to be win/win, there’s nothing wrong with Cape Wind having a part of that win,” Vinick said.
Both Nickerson and Vinick reiterated the Alliance’s stand that Nantucket Sound is a public resource and not fit for a major offshore wind farm project. They then said their letter of comment to the state for the developer’s recently filed final environmental impact report, or FEIR, would focus on alternative sites, especially just south of Tuckernuck Island, which is west of Nantucket.
“You have some depth issues there, no question,” said Vinick, putting water depths at close to 75 to 80 feet. “It’s not a slam dunk, but it’s interesting.”
Vinick said the area south of Tuckernuck Island is one of many alternative sites and that nothing is written in stone. “I’m not saying it’s the answer, I’m saying it’s the question,” he said.
For Cape Wind, the olive branch appears to be NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) by another name.
“I think given the Alliance’s origins, history and conduct, it’s a transparent effort to camouflage their agenda, which is to prevent any wind turbines in Nantucket Sound,” said Mark Rodgers, Cape Wind’s spokesman.
If the Alliance is sincere in developing offshore wind, said Rodgers, then he wished them well. But he said such development should occur in addition to, not in place of, Cape Wind’s proposal.
Barbara Hill, executive director of Clean Power Now, a group that supports Cape Wind’s proposal, offered similar sentiments.
“If the Alliance is hiring a wind developer to assess additional sites, then go for it,” said Hill. “I think it’s fabulous and we would love to see new sites developed in energy-starved New England.”
By Craig Salters
16 March 2007
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