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The price of Cape Wind's power  

John Canevari’s recent “My View” in support of Cape Wind continues to promote the myths of this costly project. Cape Wind will not be cheap and its impacts to local stakeholders will not be benign.

Myth No. 1: Cape Wind would produce cheap electricity. Buried deeply in the recently released federal report on Cape Wind is a whopping admission that Cape Wind’s power would be two to three times current wholesale prices in the area.

Perhaps in an attempt to make the outrageous cost of Cape Wind seem more reasonable, Canevari quotes current wholesale electricity prices ranging from $60 to $160 per megawatt hour (MWh). But according to ISO New England, the group that operates the electricity grid in New England, the average wholesale price was $66 per MWh over the last two years in southeastern Massachusetts. At the $122 per MWh projected in the federal report, the electricity produced by Cape Wind would be more than double the going rate.

And that cost is after the massive state and federal subsidies that Cape Wind would get – over $1 billion in state renewable energy credits and an additional $300 million from the federal Production Tax Credit. Without these subsidies, the average cost for electricity from Cape Wind would be three times the current average price, or over $190 per MWh.

If you are still skeptical, consider the fact that several other offshore projects have been canceled in the last year because of similar issues – high electric costs to consumers. Following the termination of a multibillion-dollar project off the coast of Texas, the controversial Long Island Power Authority project was also canceled. Reports showed the power from this wind project would be significantly more expensive than traditional forms of energy at an outrageous $290 per MWh.

Similarly in Delaware, the Bluewater offshore proposal received a serious setback when a report by the state Public Services Commission showed the proposal resulted in a premium of nearly $120 per MWh. Calculations by the Public Services Commission showed the project could increase electric bills by as much as $55 per month.

Myth No. 2: Cape Wind would lock in cheap rates. While Cape Wind has been touting the financial benefits its project would hold for consumers by locking in rates over a long-term period, the federal report admits this is a doubtful possibility. The document reports, “Given the estimated cost of energy is $122/MWh, twice that of the current market and that this is after the full benefit of tax and RPS incentives, the prospects of entering a long-term purchase power contract would seem low.”

Myth No. 3: Cape Wind won’t pose threats to local stakeholders. Threats to public safety and the environment are very real. The FAA has issued a “presumed hazard” determination for the proposed Cape Wind project. Despite the federal report dismissing aviation threats as minor or negligible, the FAA has stated it will conduct additional studies to respond to safety concerns by the local airports.

Commercial fishermen, who rely on the proposed site for more than half their catch, would be restricted in their access to fish the fertile waters of Nantucket Sound. According to the Massachusetts Fishermen’s Partnership, Cape Wind would displace commercial fishing from this area.

And the Coast Guard has requested a complete study on wind plant radar interference and the serious effects it would have on safe navigation in Nantucket Sound, a heavily used waterway characterized by frequent fog.

Myth No. 4: Cape Wind is a done deal. While many media outlets are incorrectly describing the federal report as a victory for the wind project, the report does not, in any way, endorse Cape Wind. It is a draft document that examines the potential impacts of Cape Wind, not an approval of this project.

Myth No. 5: You can’t do anything to stop Cape Wind. Public comment, currently under way, is at the crux of the federal review process. Cape Wind is not a done deal and the voices of Cape Codders, Islanders, and all New Englanders have yet to be heard.

The upcoming public hearings on March 10-13 are the opportunity to do just that. I encourage anyone that doesn’t want to pay dearly for this irresponsible project to attend one or more of these hearings and speak out before it really is too late – because once Nantucket Sound is gone, it’s gone forever.


February 25, 2008

Audra Parker is on staff at the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound.


This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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