Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has reignited a civil war in Cape Cod pitting neighbors against one another and drawing the wrath of the Kennedy family, no less, by announcing development of the nation’s first off-shore wind farm.
The project submitted by Wind Farms Associates has been nine years under regulatory review and would spread across 25 square miles of Nantucket Sound.
The late Sen. Ted Kennedy opposed the project from the outset. His nephew, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an environmental attorney who supports clean energy, called Wind Farms proposed in his back yard a giant “boondoggle.”
Salazar said “This will be the first of many projects up and down the Atlantic Coast” as the Obama administration progresses to close the gap of wind industry power now championed and being harnessed in Europe and China.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick who joined Salazar at the announcement in Boston said construction could begin in a year.
To appease the Kennedy family — which owns a compound in Hyannis Port — and other opponents, Salazar said he has limited the number of wind turbines to 130 from the original 170, moved them 5.2 miles from the nearest shore and 13.8 miles from Nantucket Island and ordered Wind Farms to paint them a color to blend in with the sea environment. Each turbine rises 440 feet above water.
The developers say wind will provide the 225,000 population of Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard 75% of their energy power source and 1,000 construction jobs. The project engineers claim the wind power will produce the equivalent of a medium-seized coal-fired plant and reduce carbon emissions the equivalent of 175,000 vehicles being taken off the road.
During the years of public hearings, opponents said the project would create an industrial eyesore in a pristine area which is a polite way of saying they didn’t want it in their backyard. As the New York Times reported, Wind Farms Associates has produced some strange bedfellows, being favored by Greenpeace and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Robert Kennedy on Fox News earlier said, “It’s going to cost the people of Massachusetts $4 billion over the next 20 years in extra costs.”
Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, said Wednesday that the government had conducted an exhaustive review and that he had faith in the process. The other senator from the state, Republican Scott Brown, said he opposed the project. Brown said the wind farm would hurt tourism and boating in the area.
The Boston Globe in an editorial Tuesday called for Salazar to green light the project. It contended opponent arguments were “ultimately unpersuasive, especially when weighed against the urgent need to develop clean sources of energy in a world that is growing warmer.”
Opponents vowed to seek an immediate injunction to stop it, although after nine years, the Times noted, the courts may decide that it has been reviewed enough.
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Jerry Remmers worked 26 years in the newspaper business. His last 23 years was with the Evening Tribune in San Diego where assignments included reporter, assistant city editor, county and politics editor.