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Friday, April 30, 2010

Cape Wind

Hey again
... Yes, I know I made a big post before
informing you all that I would be taking a break
from blogging for a couple of weeks, but after
hearing about the news of the Cape Wind project
passing the other day, I just had to voice my concern.

 This project, in case you're not familiar, is an attempt
to use renewable wind energy by covering 25 square miles of 
Nantucket Sound with 130 turbines (each 440 feet tall)
in order to "better our environment" and put an end to our 
dependence on foreign oil. These intentions, though commendable,
are quickly overshadowed by the detriment it will cause, not only 
to the Cape's delicate ecosystem, but to its economy as well.

Taken from the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound:

Environmental Threats
Federal Concerns
The proposed Cape Wind power plant has the potential of violating one or more federal laws, including:

    * Endangered Species Act: The power plant may adversely affect several protected species listed as federally endangered or threatened.
    * Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA): If the power plant construction or operation results in the killing, harming, or harassment of seals, dolphins, or whales, the project will violate the MMPA.
    * Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA): If the power plant harms migratory birds, it would be in violation of the MBTA.
    * Fisheries Conservation and Management Act (FCMA): The area is a designated Essential Fish Habitat.

Nantucket Sound Concerns
Noise and disturbance from the wind farm during construction, operation and maintenance may result in damage to or loss of habitat, changes in species behavior and usage, increased avian mortality and overall changes in the Sound’s ecology, including water quality and species distribution.

Oil Spill Threat

In addition to the 40,000 gallons of unspecified transformer oil on the proposed 10 story electrical service platform (ESP), the Cape Wind project would contain an additional 24,700 gallons of oil in the 130 turbines (190 gallons in each turbine). What beaches and inlets would likely be affected if the tanks on the ESP were to rupture, or if there were a vessel collision with a turbine causing oil to spill into Nantucket Sound? Cape Wind’s own computer simulation of a spill reveals that oil would reach Cape Cod and Island beaches within 5 hours. An analysis commissioned by the Alliance showed significant adverse impacts to the Nantucket Sound ecosystem including harmful impacts to wildlife and shellfish/fish from a spill incident.

Horseshoe Shoal is a component of the Atlantic flyway. As many as 6 six million birds migrate through the area in the spring and fall, usually at heights well above the turbine blades, except in foul weather, when low cloud ceiling cause the birds to fly at altitudes that be the same as the height of the rotors, creating the potential for an episodic catastrophic kill of migrating birds. The Sound also provides important habitat to sea and shorebirds, with as many as 250,000 to 500,000 sea ducks wintering the Sound for approximately six months of the year. Biologically important numbers of endangered roseate terns and piping plovers use the Sound as a breeding and feeding area in the summer months, and are known to migrate through Nantucket Sound in spring and fall. Each August, thousands of roseates congregate on Monomoy Island prior to migration and then leave in great flocks, flying southeast, south, and southwest. How many of these birds pass through the proposed Wind site has not been verified.

Horseshoe Shoal is close to Muskeget and Monomoy islands. These are important haul-out areas for more than 7,000 gray and harbor seals and pupping sites for gray seals. Stranding data indicate that harp, hooded, harbor, and gray seals occur regularly from Falmouth to Monomoy and transit the area in significant numbers.

Atlantic white-sided dolphins, striped dolphins, and common dolphins are known to occur in Nantucket Sound. Pilot whales are frequently sighted in the fall, while harbor porpoises migrate through in the spring and large whales, such as right whales, humpback whales and minke whales are sometimes observed.

Endangered and threatened turtles
such as leatherback, green, Kemps ridley and loggerhead are present during summer.

Economic Threats 
Although wind is a free source of power, turning it into electricity is more expensive than most conventional generation sources because of the high cost of turbines and associated gear. The capital investment required to generate electricity from wind is high and has been increasing rapidly. While Cape Wind initially estimated $700 million to build their project, current estimates are over $1 billion and likely much higher given escalating costs seen with other offshore projects.

Following the cancellation of a multibillion-dollar project off the coast of Texas, the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) terminated a controversial project to install 40 wind turbines off the coast of Jones Beach because a recent report showing the costs of this project to be significantly higher than traditional forms of energy generation. Learn more. Moreover, in Delaware, another offshore proposal suffered a serious setback when one report determined that the project could increase ratepayers' bills by as much as $55 per month.

While Cape Wind claims their project would save $25 million, electric ratepayers must understand that this is a grossly misleading statement. First, the study Cape Wind references is roughly 5 years old and new market rules eliminate most of the “theoretical savings.” Second, the study did not include the appropriate costs and public subsidies that more than offset any savings. Finally, as Commissioner William Doherty stated before the Cape Cod Commission on October 18, “According to the testimony of the Cape Wind people, [the project] will not lower the electric bills of Cape Cod consumers.”

Other economic threats: the incredible loss in tourism,
employment (most Cape Wind jobs will be given to non-Cape
and out of state residents), the decrease in property value,
and most importantly-- huge losses in the fishing industry.

"If Cape Wind's 25 square mile grid were constructed, commercial fishermen, who rely on the proposed site for more than half their catch, say they would be restricted in their access to fish fertile waters. The Massachusetts Fishermen's Partnership, which represents 18 commercial fishing organizations, says that navigation of mobile fishing gear between the 130 towers would be hazardous or impossible and, in short, Cape Wind would displace commercial fishing from Nantucket Sound."

I'd lastly like to share with you all this informative 13 minute
documentary, made by the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound:

For more information, please visit


  1. I am so upset over this inane project. I hope the politically correct attitude regarding Indians will help to stop this!!!

  2. Yes, i've been wondering how locals feel about this. I worry so about the birds, and the locals who make their living from tourism.
    Especially in the wake of this terrible spill in Florida

  3. Erin..thank you for this post. This is such a terrible thing. I hope they will get this stopped..
    xoxo Gert

  4. Great post. It has been all the "buzz" as it should be here in MA.

  5. I am also thinking about the animals who were killed..., and ocean polluted by the recent oil spill due to the explosion of an oil drilling station. I think the US does need to find a way to reduce their dependency on oil and oil consumption (and reduce pollution)..., and then I read that oil is involved in this project too!! And building them out in the ocean..., there must be better solutions, I absolutely agree.

  6. A few years ago, I went on a three week, 8,00 mile trip in China. They did have many wind turbines, but they were in the desert areas. Maybe fragile waterfront communities should be spared,and the fishermen with them.

  7. Thank you for the information. I was just reading a post from someone in Louisiana, talking about the oil spill, and I have to say, I totally trust my blogging friends opinions more than the media. I mean, you guys are the ones who are actually there and really know what's going on!

  8. And now this massive oil spill in the USA, when ever will we learn?

  9. That's very interestin Erin. I just heard something about this. We have some in southern Wisconsin. I am not that knowledgeble of the situation. Have a great week too,

  10. good to see you today at Farmhouse.....

    kary and teddy

  11. erin..that's too funny about the halloween blanket...i used it for buddy in the fall too....

    teddy wants it now :-)

    Target ? i think so...

    kary and teddy

  12. This is a wonderful thing....what are you all thinking?

  13. Read this

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Thanks for your thoughts!

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