I am 50 years old and have lived on Cape Cod for more than 40 years. I think I know better what is best for Cape Cod than any political appointee from who-knows-where with a cowboy hat and an agenda.
As a sitting planning board member in Bourne, I have been involved with the writing of our initial and since-amended turbine bylaw. I have benefited from many hours of testimony from both applicants and representatives from the turbine industry.
Over the years the use of turbines gained traction with no guarantees of low-cost, reliable, consistent energy. Most applications for land-based turbines on Cape Cod are being rejected for a variety of reasons: reduced property values, adverse health effects, visual blight with industrial-size generators dominating our small peninsula, benefiting few while affecting many.
Not to be deterred, proponents now look to the permitting process to take local authority away through legislation because “they” know better what is good for “us.” As a dear friend of mine said of the turbines, “An imperfect science is trying to be placed in a perfect place.”
Industry representatives stated during testimony that the turbine on the military base adjacent to Route 28 – 390 feet tall and weighing 360 tons – is the smallest turbine that manufacturer produces, due to inefficiency problems and cost effectiveness. Turbines in general are not a reliable energy source due to inconsistent wind; this means back-up power plants must be available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Back-up power plants generally run at less than full power, which is inherently less efficient and much more polluting.
Logic says if wind turbines were a smart financial investment the subsidies would not be necessary, as the free market would seize the opportunity. Solutions that work to produce electricity efficiently will come from the private sector and sell themselves on the merits of the technology, not by legislating permits for flawed technology at taxpayers’ expense. The pressure is on, it seems, to get as many of these turbines up as fast as possible. The window of opportunity for subsidies is closing, hence speed up the approval process through misguided legislation.
I write to implore the many I know who are hoping but not acting to stop this colossal mistake before it is too late. If turbine technology had advanced over the past 30 years as the computer has, they would not have to be 400 to 500 feet tall to approach only 25 percent efficiency. The Massachusetts Maritime Academy turbine is producing at only 18 percent, rather than the 25 percent it was projected to produce.
The only measurable advance in the wind turbine industry seems to be the materials technology allowing for super-large structures. This type of size and scale does not work on Cape Cod, except for perhaps some very select land-based locations (much cheaper to build and maintain than ocean-based).
I would urge any and all who have not actually visited one of these monstrosities to travel to Bourne and Falmouth; the size and scale are absurd for this region.
Wind farm proponents acknowledge the electricity will be the most expensive to produce and sell, is unreliable and creates practically no jobs per dollar invested. How can we let this ruse be forced upon us? One would have every right to think any proposal with such drastic financial and physical impacts on a region must be a panacea, but the proponents cannot even coerce a second buyer for 50 percent of the electricity generated or secure the financing beyond our tax dollars. All the while more thousands of square miles of our shorelines are being opened up for fast-track permitting.
We as a nation have the intellectual and natural resources to develop real solutions in our transition to cleaner energy; let us not settle for this obtrusive assault. I appreciate how difficult it has been for the many sitting board members here on Cape Cod and our Native Americans who have looked at the pros and cons as presented and said no. Small-footprint subsidies cultivate our Cape smartly over time, while the turbines intrude and change the Cape instantly for the worse, in my opinion.
I know I speak for many who think their voices do not matter; they do. Residents can help stop this mistake from being foisted upon our peninsula.
Donald DuBerger of Pocasset is a member of the Bourne Planning Board. The views expressed here are his own and do not necessarily represent those of his fellow board members.