By Mark Rodgers
Visit port cities in Denmark and Germany and you will see a beehive of activity. People are working with large cranes assembling offshore wind turbines and placing them on barges. Ports that were long in decline are now booming thanks to the path those nations charted that has led to building 45 offshore wind farms in Europe, with another 20 now under construction.
To his credit, Governor Patrick saw what was happening in Europe and recognized that with Cape Wind Massachusetts has the lead in developing the nation’s first offshore wind farm, while the other Atlantic coast states race to catch up. Governor Patrick has been working to maximize the jobs and economic benefits by seizing the first mover advantage, including the supply chain that will be required by an offshore wind industry, like the new multi-purpose marine commerce terminal being planned for New Bedford.
The Department of Energy says that if we expand this industry we can build more than 100 Cape Wind sized projects off the US East Coast over the next 20 years and create over 40,000 new American jobs, while becoming more energy independent and having cleaner air.
Standing in the way is a coal funded opposition group that goes by the name the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound and whose CEO, Audra Parker, penned a column here last week.
The dark specter raised by Ms. Parker of troubled manufacturers of solar components is not on point. There is no similarity between the global market for solar panels (where foreign governments can underprice American products) and the local market into which Cape Wind will deliver its power. Further, the global experience has been that manufacturing has developed in proximity to the offshore wind projects, because the high shipping costs of the large components favor nearby production.
Ms. Parker next warns about the cost of Cape Wind, but neglects to mention that the estimated residential bill increase, based on current fuel forecasts, would be less than one dollar per month, while fossil fuel price spikes (fuels we have to import into New England) have caused electric bills to skyrocket as recently as 2008, and will likely do so again, and that more aggressive forecasts show the Project saving money over the full term.
Naturally, she also neglects to mention the high external costs of coal in damaging our health and environment. That omission may be due to her organization’s disclosure that Bill Koch has directly paid the salary of their CEO. Bill Koch owns coal mines and a waterfront mansion on Nantucket Sound.
Fortunately, Massachusetts is still in excellent shape to retain its lead in U.S. offshore wind development. Working together, we can put people to work now in the jobs of the future and help make Massachusetts a global leader in a booming new global industry.
Mark Rodgers is the Communications Director of Cape Wind
Link to the Audra Parker Op Ed I was responding to:
November 11, 2011
By Mark Rodgers