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The Hillary Clinton of wind power  

The farther one travels from Cape Cod the better the Cape Wind project looks – 130 turbines rising 440 feet above the waters of Nantucket Sound in one the East Coast’s busiest recreational boating and ground fishing areas, generating clean electricity when the wind blows or does not blow too hard at double the cost of other electricity, and all this for a mere quarter of a billion in tax- payer dollars as a subsidy; this is Nobel Prize-level innovation.

Seen from Boston or Providence those of us who support offshore wind but oppose this project in this location appear a bit odd. By the time that one reaches, say, Chicago, we are seen as deranged, sociopathic and really stupid. After all, opposition to the Cape Wind project comes only from wealthy waterfront property owners, Bunny Mellon being a prime example. And these cowards, these people who glory in their oversized carbon footprints only opposed Cape Wind by holding fundraisers at a wealthy Cape Cod private club. Really?

The man behind the Cape Wind project is Jim Gordon. I have heard him say publicly that he grew up on the Cape spending summers in Yarmouth. A recent Harvard Business School case on Cape Wind written by Prof. Richard H. K. Vietor tells us that Gordon spent Labor Day weekend of 2007 in his home in Yarmouth “two blocks from the Bass River.” I spent Sunday afternoon of that weekend at a cookout at the Portuguese American Club in Falmouth, 28 miles and two blocks from the Bass River. Jim Gordon was there to talk about his clean-energy mission.

Gordon spoke of the rolling blackouts to come during the winter of 2007-2008, the ones that never happened. And he told the crowd how there will be no more gas-fired power plants built because of a dwindling supply of natural gas. He neglected to tell them that within months he would sign a deal to build a $400 million gas-fired plant in western Massachusetts, a plant that will burn oil when gas supplies run short in winter. His new plant will be in the Pioneer Valley Energy Park. Pioneer indeed.

But the real lie in this whole debate is the one characterizing opposition to Cape Wind. The people who started the Alliance to protect Nantucket Sound, originally an ad-hoc group of ordinary folks calling themselves SOS, Save Our Sound, preceded Bunny Mellon and Bill Koch and the other wealthy supporters of the Alliance by one year. My first gathering to raise money and awareness took place in a decrepit former food market-turned-art gallery on Main Street in Hyannis. Trades people, artists, musicians, teachers, town officials, small-business owners and folks from all walks of life came together to show their opposition to Cape Wind, throwing everything from coins to $20 bills into plastic beach pails as they were passed around.

Ordinary citizens created the Alliance and for a while the Alliance was hard pressed to pay its rent and its staff. Then, after the Alliance made enough noise, the wealthy summer folks took notice and pitched in. Is it hard to understand why the Alliance has had to spend millions of dollars fighting a man who has spent $30 million promoting his scheme? We who tossed a ten or a twenty into those pails welcome those who can afford to throw thousands, even tens of thousands into the battle. That is the value we all place on Nantucket Sound. Think about that in Chicago before telling us we are stupid or just NIMBY. Nantucket Sound is a backyard worth protecting.

Vestas, the world’s largest maker of wind turbines, has recently gone on the record saying that shallow water wind power is twice as expensive as conventional power. They also say that a “tiny minority” are driving the debate and they urge the press and governments everywhere to place their emphasis on land-based wind power until technology lowers costs and improves reliability for offshore wind.

Jim Gordon has never owned property on Cape Cod. In March 1973 his mother bought the 1,000-square-foot house she still owns in Yarmouth. Jim would graduate from Boston University two years later. How to describe this man who wants to pillage Nantucket Sound? Is he a mythical figure, a legendary figure, or just another snake-oil salesman?

Jim Gordon does remind me of Hillary and Bill Clinton. Hillary told of being shot at by snipers and Bill declared “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” Hmmm. .?.?. Most people would say the Clintons lied. What else in Gordon’s own words should we hold up for closer examination? Example: General Electric no longer makes the turbines Gordon says he will use and Siemens will not sell them for the U.S. They were the only two sources for these turbines. One hundred thirty towers with no turbines?

Jim Gordon’s economics do not work, his site is unacceptable and his word is not worth much here on Cape Cod, where he has never lived.

Peter Kenney lives in Yarmouth. He is a writer and television producer.

The Providence Journal

12 June 2008

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

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