Cape Wind has seen better days. In fact, offshore wind in general has seen better times.
On Jan. 3, ISO New England, the operator of the New England electric grid, filed comments with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Speaking about Cape Wind, it says: “(I)t is unlikely that the project will achieve commercial operation by the start of the 2015-2016 Capacity Commitment Period.” This means Cape Wind will not contribute to our electric supply by June of 2015 – more than three years from now. Still, Cape Wind officials persist in claiming the project could begin construction late this year. The ISO also notes in its comments that the existing grid will require a new transmission line to handle Cape Wind’s electricity.
The project costs just keep rising while only half of Cape Wind’s power has been sold.
The ISO New England comments are devastating, because they also say exactly the same about Jim Gordon’s 400-megawatt gas-fired power plant planned for Westfield. Gordon’s Boston-based Energy Management Inc. is now revealed to have two major Massachusetts projects that will not be online for more than three years, perhaps much longer. ISO New England reached its conclusions based on information provided by Gordon’s own people.
The difficulties for the Cape Wind project are self-evident, and mounting. However, far less has been known about the Westfield project until now. Jim Gordon made a sizable fortune building and then selling six gas-fired power plants in New England after energy deregulation. He once generated between 8 percent and 10 percent of all the electricity generated in New England.
Based on this record one would assume, and Gordon himself claims, that he is an expert in the finer points of natural gas as a fuel for generating electricity. In fact, as recently as 2008 and 2009 he was saying publicly that there would not be any more natural gas-fired power plants built in the United States, that there were not sufficient reserves of gas to power new plants and that the price for what gas we still had would rise as a result of its dwindling availability.
Natural gas is now selling at stunningly low prices, with vast new reserves still being found and exploited. Jim Gordon was simply wrong about the future of natural gas as an energy source, very wrong. Is he equally wrong about the costs and benefits of Cape Wind? Two major offshore wind projects planned for the New Jersey coast and Chesapeake Bay have recently been canceled. Vestas, the world’s largest maker of wind turbines, just announced layoffs for 2,300 workers; it laid off 3,000 in 2010, and 1,600 Vestas jobs in the U.S. are in jeopardy. Wind power is in trouble.
It appears Jim Gordon’s claims and promises might be just so much, well “¦ wind.
Peter Kenney lives in West Yarmouth.
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