Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Cape Wind, the project that will neither begin nor end.

The other day, while feeling particularly virtuous for finally signing up to MassEnergy’s New England Wind Fund, the mechanism for supporting renewable wind power in Massachusetts, I started thinking about green energy in the Commonwealth.

When I first became active on local issues, the question of Cape Wind was very much in the air. The proposal to site huge wind turbines in the water off the coast of Nantucket left people split. The environmental benefits were pretty clear, but the idea also raised the hackles of some pretty well-healed people and not all good-minded types lined up in support. Even Ted Kennedy, the grand man of Massachusetts liberal politics, opposed it. So it was no small gesture when candidate Deval Patrick, while on the campaign trail in 2005, came out in favor. Us environmental types were thrilled.

Well, that was a long time ago now, and let's see what's happened since then. Ted Kennedy has died and Deval Patrick, after two very successful terms as governor, just handed over the key to the corner office to Republican Charlie Baker.  A whole decade has passed. And this morning, I receive this blurb from Green Cambridge, my local enviro group …

Cape Wind news! The project is facing numerous issues, and its future seems unclear. Show your support for offshore wind: the Better Future Project is organizing a rally on February 28, and has made a petition for you to sign!

What does this say about us that after over a decade of wrangling, there still is neither a wind farm off the coast of Nantucket nor a decision not to build a wind farm? Is our process so moribund, or are powerful interests so powerful, that we just end up sitting on a fence for generations on big-scale infrastructure that truly can make a difference? The Green Line Extension also comes to mind, a project only 25 years in the making, without a shovel in the ground yet. These time lags are too long. There’s got to be a better way.