It turns out the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., was right in opposing a wind-energy project in Nantucket Sound, but for all the wrong reasons. There’s a lot of that going around – so much, in fact, that it increasingly appears there is no wrong reason for opposing wind-energy projects.
Sen. Kennedy, a lifelong Hyannisport, Mass., resident, professed to be a supporter of so-called green energy. But when a 130-turbine wind-power proposal turned up in his watery playground off the Kennedy family’s Cape Cod compound, he balked.
With Sen. Kennedy safely in his grave and the remaining Kennedys apparently a spent force, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities quietly approved Cape Wind on Nov. 22. Only now are Cape Cod and Nantucket residents beginning to discern the dimensions of this boondoggle.
According to a Bloomberg News account, the British company National Grid Plc will pay 18.7 cents per kilowatt-hour for half of the wind farm’s output. Under terms of the 15-year contract, the price will increase 3.5 percent a year, to a staggering 30.27 cents per kilowatt-hour. The initial rate “is more than three times the average wholesale power price in the region,” Bloomberg reported.
A group called the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound estimates the project will cost ratepayers $4 billion more over the next 15 years than they would pay if the wind farm were never built. Of course, it could be argued Massachusetts voters inflicted this wound on themselves by electing a governor and legislature that enacted a mandate that 15 percent of the state’s energy come from renewable sources by 2020.
It also could be argued that placing windmills in shallow offshore waters makes more sense than attempting to build them on land, since Nantucket Sound and other offshore sites are uninhabitable. That distinguishes them from sites such as 178 New Haven Road in Prospect, where BNE Energy Inc. of West Hartford wants to build a pair of 328-foot-tall wind turbines. More than 200 residents attended a rally this month in opposition to the project.
They warned of the effect noise and “shadow flicker” from the spinning turbine blades would have on property values and quality of life of nearby residents. An East Falmouth, Mass., resident who lives near a windmill told The Sunday Republican, “The sound that it puts out, it’s as though a plane is going overhead continuously.” Land-based windmills also have been known to kill large numbers of wild birds, and even have been called “Cuisinarts of the air.”
Rep. Vickie Nardello, D-Prospect, and Mayor Robert J. Chatfield asked the state Siting Council to stage a hearing on the windmills in town. They expect the request to be accommodated.
Wind power can be environmentally damaging, wildly expensive to consumers, and harmful to quality of life in residential and commercial districts. It even causes pollution by forcing fossil-fuel plants to cycle up and down more radically and more often, reducing their efficiency. One can only wonder why so many in government are so invested in a strategy that increasingly is giving the term “renewable energy” a black eye.
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