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Not In My Backyard

It’s easy to claim to support renewable energy resources like wind power. But showing that support often means making tough decisions. Take the proposed project off the coast of Cape Cod.

Three energy entrepreneurs joined forces in 2002 to form Cape Wind. The company plans to build the United States’ first off-shore windfarm, expecting the project to be complete by 2005. The project calls for turbines to be placed in a grid pattern, covering an area approximately 5 miles long and 5 miles wide, in Nantucket Sound. Measured to the tip of the tallest blade, the turbines would stand almost forty stories tall. The wind farm is projected to generate up to 420 MW of power for the New England grid. That’s enough energy for approximately half-a-million homes and businesses. The project backers see the windfarm as an excellent way to produce much- needed energy, without the environmental effects of energy generated by burning fossil fuels.

The plan is running into some stormy seas, created by opponents who don’t want Nantucket Sound disturbed. One of the biggest concerns is the potential affect on birds in the area. Many species call the area home, many others migrate through, and the worry is that the birds won’t be able to stay clear of the turbines. There are concerns that the windfarm would interfere with fishing, or create vibrations that affect sealife. Other concerns center on the "look" of the windfarm. The area includes Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island, both of which draw large numbers of tourists. Any disruption of the natural beauty of the area could have a devastating economic impact.

Cape Wind is hoping to address many of the concerns through environmental impact studies.

What do you think?
Does the need for clean, renewable energy resources outweigh the need to preserve pristine natural areas? How many dead birds would be too many? Should "looks" derail a potentially beneficial project? What are the most important considerations when siting a windfarm?

Explore more about the Cape Wind proposal at