Cape Wind, an offshore wind farm planned for Nantucket Sound, may start installing turbines in 2013 after years of oppostion. The decade-long resistance challenged everything from the higher cost of wind energy to the impact on fishing and the scenic landscape. Cape Wind demonstrates what might be ahead in following the wind offshore. Residents are all for green energy but express concern about aesthetics, the ocean environment and whether turbine vibrations will prevent fish from navigating on course through the water. Questions involve impacts on local fisheries, real estate values and tourism. Here are the perspectives of people who see power or problems blowing in the wind.
The Cape Wind Project overcame the latest in a labyrinth of regulatory hurdles just this month when the Federal Aviation Administration ruled the project posed “no hazard” to aviation navigation in the Nantucket Sound area. But whether Cape Wind’s planned 130 3.6-megawatt turbines will finally rise from the sea floor remains an ongoing drama. Along with widespread advocacy, at least six well-funded and vocal groups have fought this project and leadership included the late Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.)
In the race to harvest clean energy, offshore wind farms can reap a steadier flow of energy than turbines on open land plants. Cape Wind’s 130 turbines, to be installed off the coast of Cape Cod, marks the first U.S. wind farm in ocean waters. Offshore turbines are much bigger, sturdier and more costly than onshore models that typically carry about a $6 million pricetag for a 3 megawatt unit. While the Cape Wind total project cost is $2.5 billion, it’s energy source – the wind – is free.