By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

How about everyone’s back yard?

The fight over the Nantucket wind farm is now morphing into a turf war — make that a surf war — between the rich folks of Nantucket Sound and the working class of Buzzards Bay.

Jay Cashman, who unveiled his Buzzards Bay windmill plan earlier this week, says it would supply half the energy needs of Cape Cod. The Nantucket competition, Cape Wind, claims that its project would cover three-quarters of the energy needs of the Cape and Islands.

Gov. Mitt Romney, a Cape Wind opponent, has in the past talked about the Berkshires as an alternative.

Well, Media Nation has an idea: Why not build all three? Is there a more pressing need in this country than new sources of clean, renewable energy? Or am I making too much sense?

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  1. Specks

    The Brits have found that this form of energy production is not cost effective, nor particularly an environmental plus, and they have years of “harvesting wind” north of the Shetlands where it is really windy. They are now testing ocean driven turbines that can produce 1000s of megawatts more efficiently on a consistent basis.

  2. Zil Friend

    I grew up in California and can remember being driven through the Altamount Pass (en route to Grandma’s), always fascinated by the windmills. I don’t understand the kneejerk NIMBY reactions by the people here. Wind power has the potential to do some great good – it’s local-job-intensive, environmentally friendly power. Now, I know nothing about the technical merits of the sites mentioned, but I think any company wanting to start a wind farm would have done that research already, right? So I’m in favor of putting them wherever they’d be productive.

  3. Mark

    Dan, I won’t say you’re not making sense. But have you ever sailed on Nantucket Sound? Have you ever been to Buzzards Bay? Why would we put such a hideous wind farm (these windmills are something to behold–they’re huge and noisy) there when there are plenty of other places that would work that are not as ecologically fragile? Why not the top of every tall building in Boston?

  4. Anonymous

    Mark has a very good point.

  5. metallicaMobes

    that would be something to see, windmills on top of the Pru…

  6. Dan Kennedy

    Mark –I’m sorry, but if you’re going to throw me a big, fat pitch like that, I’m going to swing.[H]ave you ever sailed on Nantucket Sound? Is it possible to ask a more elitist question than that? No, and no.

  7. Mark

    Dan, When you’re a hammer everything looks like nail. I’m no elitist. (I didn’t ask whether you’d ever played polo for Christ’s sake.) I don’t own a sailboat. But I have sailed a few times over the years on the Nantucket Sound. I’ve also fished out there a bit. And all I’m saying is that the place would be ruined by the damned wind turbines. Drive along the Thruway in NY and just before you reach Syracuse there’s farm land that’s covered in the turbines. It’s several miles south of the highway, but you get a sense for how large they are. There are better places (and lots of them) for these things than in the shoals of Nantucket Sound.

  8. Aaron Read

    I have yachted (well, ferried) through Nantucket Sound and I have indeed sailed in Buzzards Bay. My family used to rent a house for the weekend on Cuttyhunk Island (an island or two down the chain from Naushon) every summer when I was a kid.I personally think the wind farm ideas are pretty good ones. I do question their practicality somewhat, although those who say they’re ugly and noisy haven’t looked at the one next to the southeast expressway near Savin Hill. And yes, I’ve gone there to listen to it when there isn’t much traffic…it’s not that noisy.Speaking of Cuttyhunk, though, there’s a cautionary tale there. Many moons ago there was a wind turbine (just one) on the peak of Cuttyhunk, about 70ft tall. It was a big deal; the island has to generate its own AC power via two big diesel turbines. It was an experimental power generator at the time, IIRC it was installed in the mid to late 1970’s but it never really worked. I think it was too susceptible to the harsh winter weather. Here’s the key lesson: the company bankrolling it went out of business, and the damn wind turbine just sat there, rusting, for 20 years before a bad storm in the late 1990’s finally knocked it down.That’s the only thing that concerns me. Are there clauses that stipulate that Cape Wind (or whoever) must maintain the cash reserves to take down the wind farm should it prove to be an economic failure? These farms are in a tough environment and they WILL need maintenance every year. I don’t want to see a bunch of rusting hulks doing nothing if Cape Wind goes under or gets sold. Not that I’m assuming it will fail, but that’s always a possibility.I do wonder about the idea of putting them on top of buildings. I think that’s problematic because of how unstable the windflow is through a series of concrete canyons. Plus there’s lots of issues with building weight and windload from putting even a shortened 100ft tower on the roof, never mind a tower with essentially a giant sail on top of it. But it’s interesting nonetheless, I wonder how well it’d work…maybe each turbine powers its own building?I wonder if there’s a way to harness the wind & heat generated from traffic on a highway? That’d be a nice touch, eh?

  9. Dan Kennedy

    Mark — Polo’s cheaper. ;-)Look, I’m big on views. Although I’ve never sailed on Nantucket Sound, my grandmother used to have a small cottage in Onset, near Buzzards Bay. I’ve also gone backpacking in the Berkshires any number of times. I don’t like cell-phone towers, billboards or strip malls.But I just don’t think we appreciate the extent of the crisis we’re in. We’re dependent on people who hate us. We’re frying the planet. We should not be saying no to any clean, renewable source of energy.I wish nuclear power were safe, but it’s not. Therefore we’re going to have to pursue every single alternative that doesn’t contribute to global warming and terrorist bank accounts. Even if it spoils the view.

  10. MeTheSheeple

    Nuclear power is a lot safer when you have plants in your country newer than 25 years. France, for example, gets nearly all of its energy from nuclear power. And don’t forget home heating and cooling accounts for most of a nation’s energy use — it’s not just about the Hummers, OK?Heck, if you’re worried about NIMBY, turn a good chunk of the federal land in Nevada into modern nuclear power plants. There’s nothing CLOSE to being substitable — not unless you like relying on foreign powers for our energy, have no moral qualms about seeing miners getting crushed to death, or are willing to turn a sizable chunk of America into “renewable” energy.

  11. Anonymous

    Build them all — great idea Dan!The answer to NIMBY is to have it benefit the neighbors. Has anyone thought to promise Cape-and-Island folks a cut in THEIR electric bills?Hull has a windmill at the extreme tip, which was named Windhmill Point in the 17th century. It’s owned by the town … it provides power to the street lights and traffic lights. Summer residents were worried about “visuals” and property value, but were out voted. The reduction in expenses for oil-fired municipal electric generation has the townfolk asking when the town can put up a second one.If you look out from the L-street Bathhouse toward Hull, the tiny windmill gives you an idea of what the Nantucket windmills will look like. Can you even see it?As to Buildings, I know a building in Brookline that has a small wind turbine and large photovoltaic array on the roof … they generate power in almost any weather. The view of the Dorchester and Hull windmills from their roof really puts the proposals in perspective … a thumbnail at arms length or less.Bill R

  12. Mark

    Dan, I agree. It’s an emergency. But why does the question come down to Nantucket Sound or nowhere? I know people talk about the Berkshires and other locations, but there are many places where we could put the turbines that wouldn’t ruin the view, as you put it. And there are many other ways of conserving energy. I live in the west suburbs and take the commuter rail in from Westborough to Boston every day. It’s OK. But the trains aren’t frequent enough, they’re filthy, crowded, in a sad state of repair and often late. Yet the MBTA wants to raise fares, which will push more people back onto the roads. Why can’t we get a decent commuter rail system in this area? Instead of raising fares the MBTA should lower them. Although it’s kind of neat public works project, I think the Big Dig was a catastrophe (for more than just the shoddy engineering and kickbacks). It makes no sense to spend $14 billion on a road that encourages people to drive into or through a big city. Imagine what that money could have done to the regional public transportation system.

  13. metallicaMobes

    Right on, Mark.

  14. Mark

    OK, I’ve been thinking. How about Worcester Airport? It’s way up high, and very windy. Let’s put a wind farm–err, park–there.

  15. Bugsy

    Wind farms work best off-grid. So, the idea of putting one on top of each building actually makes more sense than connecting a wind farm to a grid. Putting them on a grid and in the ocena makes no sense at all.

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