May 25, 2012

Community comes out for Cape Wind hearing

By Sean Corcoran | WGBH | 24 May 2012

BARNSTABLE, Mass. – State energy regulators visited Barnstable the evening of May 23 to hear Cape Codders – and others – talk about NStar’s proposal to buy and sell more than a quarter of the electricity anticipated from the Cape Wind project – the 130-turbine wind farm proposed for Nantucket Sound.

More than 125 people attended the public hearing about the merits of a 15-year contract that would have NStar buy nearly 28 percent of Cape Wind’s power.

NStar would pay about 19 cents per kilowatt hour – more than double the current market price. The utility says the increase works out to about $1.08 more per month for the average residential customer.

The wind farm supporters

Falmouth resident Bill Eddy said it’s a price he’s willing to pay for renewable energy.

“Every single one of my living costs has increased dramatically over the years,” Eddy said. “I’m paying more for food, for gas, for just the insurance on my home. Paying $12 more a year for changing how America looks at its energy future seems to be a small price to pay.”

Falmouth resident and Boston College student Annie Myer, 19, said she’s been hearing about Cape Wind since she was 10 years old, and she’s ready to see the turbines in the water.

“I will look at the turbines and smile,” Myer said, “because though they are man-made, they harness renewable resources, and that’s where our brighter future lies.”

The opposing view

While supporters testified that Cape Wind would provide emissions-free electricity and reduce America’s reliance on fossil fuels, opponents such as David Moriarty said it would jeopardize the Cape’s two primary industries: fishing and tourism.

“This is no joke,” he said. “This is our economic engine. This is the only thing we have to support our families. Do you understand that? This is our livelihood. This is everything. That is why we fight so hard for this.”

Cape Wind received federal approval in April 2010, but it’s had some setbacks. Last year a federal judge tossed out a permit from the Federal Aviation Administration, ordering regulators to take another look at the project’s potential impact on air traffic. The project also failed to receive a federal loan guarantee, which could make it more difficult to attract investors.

Still, Cape Wind officials expect construction to begin by early next year, and they say having NStar and National Grid both on board to buy Cape Wind power is a significant step toward having turbines spinning in Nantucket Sound.

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