Cape Wind: Maine public radio news gets it righter than most

There but for the grace of ...I'm assured that decades of litigation shall be wreaked upon the hapless Cape Wind Wannabes that want to set their poles in the seafloor off Massachusetts.

Maine public radio's story is better coverage than many .
Lets critics speak. Points out that Mine isn't interested in THAT kind of nearshore ocean wind farming, sticking poles in the seafloor near the shore..No way.
[Some] Maine Offshore Wind Advocates Applaud Cape Wind Approval

In Boston today, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar approved what would be the nation's first offshore wind farm off of Cape Cod. The highly controversial Cape Wind project consists of a proposed 130-turbine wind farm in Nantucket Sound. Advocates in Maine hope it will add momentum to the state's efforts to develop offshore wind.

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Maine Offshore Wind Advocates Applaud Cape Wind Ap Listen

Cape Wind has been churning controversy in Massachusetts for nine years. Its supporters say it will eventually supply most of the power for Cape Cod's 225,000 residents. The turbines will stand 400 feet tall and be visible from the shores of Hyannis. And, they insist, it will create jobs and a renewable domestic energy source.

But opponents say the project will endanger wildlife and air and sea traffic, while blocking historic views. The late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy fought Cape Wind alongside many other residents, fishermen and two Wampanoag Indian tribes.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar stepped in today with a green light for the project. "I'm here in Boston today to announce that I am approving the Cape Wind Project," he said. "I am approving the Cape Wind project with modifications to the proposed project that will help protect the historic, cultural and environmental resources of Nantucket Sound."

Here in Maine, supporters of offshore wind welcomed the news. "Winds offshore are much stronger than they are onshore, so it's great news for the country," says Habib Dagher, director of UMaine's Advanced Engineered Wood Composites Center who is working on the state's offshore wind development efforts.

Dagher says he's glad to see that the Obama administration is following through on its vocalized support of offshore wind, and he points out that Cape Wind is very different from what Maine is exploring.

"The Cape Wind project is in very shallow waters compared to Maine waters," Dagher says. "In addition to that, our plan in Maine is to go 20 miles plus offshore, so that these structures are beyond the horizon, you can't see them from shore. The Cape Wind project structures will be visible from shore. The Cape Wind project is fix-based to the sea bed because you have shallow waters. Maine's structures that we're looking at are floating. They'll float like a boat will float."

By going farther offshore, Maine can capture stronger and steadier wind, Dagher says, and there's less interference with fisheries and other wildlife. He hopes that by September the Maine Public Utilities Commission will issue a request for proposals to build the state's first offshore floating wind farm.

"Europe is 20 years ahead of the United States, the first European offshore wind farm was built almost 20 years ago," Dagher says. "It's wonderful that we'll have a farm in the U.S. potentially by 2012. That will help not only Massachusetts move forward but Maine and others move forward as well. So Maine is not too far behind here."

Some Mainers, especially coastal residents, are still evaluating offshore wind, just as the Conservation Law Foundation did for Cape Wind. The foundation is a regional environmental organization that was an intervenor in the Cape Wind case.

"As with many projects, we had some suggestions on how to improve the project -- I think that Cape Wind has provided a lot of lessons for the right way to go about projects," says Sean Mahoney, vice president of the Conservation Law Foundation. "This was a long process. We hope that the federal government and the state government and those who are proposing these projects have learned from the Cape Wind experience, and that moving forward we're able to move with more efficiency to a resolution as to whether or not a project is or is not appropriate."

One group in Maine is keeping a close eye on offshore wind development. That's the Penobscot Bay Watch in Rockland. Executive Director Ron Huber says he's disappointed in the Cape Wind decision.

"I think relatively inshore wind farms are inappropropriate usage of coastal waters," Huber says. "We're going to have an opportunity to study and see what impacts this actually does have on the close environment and economies that many people are concerned about when it comes to ocean wind farming."

But Huber says he thinks Maine is moving in a "wiser direction" by promoting wind farms 20 miles offshore. "This is being done to ensure that a coastal economy that the state has is not harmed by something that's supposed to help it," he says. "I have disagreements with the University of Maine and the Bureau of Parks and Lands and others about where the best test areas for deep water wind farming is. I'm quite in agreement with Dr. Dagher and others that well-offshore deepwater wind farming can be very appropriate for us."

Down in Massachusetts, opponents of Cape Wind who want the project moved out of the sound are expected to continue to fight the project in court. Audra Parker of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound says she can't stand by while public lands and "marred forever.''

Other groups who say they'll sue include the Animal Welfare Institute and the Industrial Wind Action Group. A Wampanoag tribe also is expected to sue.

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Comment by Ron Huber on April 29, 2010 at 12:45pm
My point being that the close to shore wind thieves that were fast tracking this "emergency" bill, had visions of Bureau of Parks and Lands awarding square mile after square mile of submerged public lands into their hands for them to pound 100s of turbine towers into. And BPL had visions of $10,000 application fees and many more money and influence making possibilities to power up their agency. "No significant impact." each application review by BPL would surely find. alas, and up they'd go.

That was the venture capitalist dream that was popped by Dagher and his deepsea crew. Heavy federal cash to pay for their project, of course. So how's the political environment around those Lakes? You need to herd some pork toward the Universities there with the proviso it be for over-the-horizon research and development only, even if that means clipping them short like wind-bonsai. And where the heck is sports afield and all the other sport fishing types?

The big difference is DeepCwind would be like NASA: build and deploy a small # of very large wind/wave leviathans over the horizon, while the investor class wants windmills to be a common as blackflies all over the place from the mountaintops to every water body including the sea, in one glorious windfall-making "emergency".

that was the emergency
Comment by Ron Huber on April 29, 2010 at 12:20pm
Actually what happened was that, through the maneuvering of the way-offshore wind crowd: Maine lobstermen and the University of Maine-led DeepCwind Consortium, the close-to-shore windmill crowd got cut out of the corporate welfare trough in the Maine ocean energy bill; they (Neptune Wind and the like) can't even get the state to issue an RFP request for a proposal in state waters. Are those lakes large enough for there to be places within 'em that are beyond the horizon of all the shorelanders for 400-odd foot tall windmills, or at least all but the industrial coasts? Get the deepsea wind to go seek leases out _there_, with the understanding that inshore wind would be anathema, would steal away their offshore profits.

The Atlantis Effect: Questioner: "Where's your electricity come from?" Answerer: "Out there". (Points vaguely out to sea, or to lake's horizon).
Comment by Long Islander on April 29, 2010 at 8:30am
Habib Dagher said: "our plan in Maine is to go 20 miles plus offshore, so that these structures are beyond the horizon, you can't see them from shore."Unless it's a LAKE shore. Then it's pretty much OK to not only put these massive machines in sight, but basically on top of people's homes, way out in the country, formerly where a big draw was the peace and quiet. Why is it that a saltwater existence gets 20 miles of setback as such, but thanks to our emergency wind law, there is virtually no protection for those of us who do not live on the ocean?
Comment by Long Islander on April 29, 2010 at 8:23am
Habib Dagher said: "Winds offshore are much stronger than they are onshore".
Yes, that information is readily available on wind resource maps and also helps explain why there are more sailboats than sailcars. So the question remains, why was it necessary to pass emergency legislation to fast track onshore wind, where in essence, there is very little of it?

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Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT (excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.”

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