The nation’s first planned offshore wind farm is getting a taste of what life is like for its onshore counterparts: The winds of opposition are blowing strong. Today’s WSJ reports on Cape Wind,
The conflict over Cape Wind illustrates a persistent problem for renewable power. Policy makers and environmentalists love the idea of generating clean power from the sun, wind, water and geothermal sources to displace imported oil. But at the local level, there is often opposition to the hardware needed to make renewable power work: big windmills, acres of solar panels and large-scale transmission lines.
“You can build wind farms all day, but unless you have eminent domain to allow you to build a 1,000-mile transmission line, it won’t work,” says James Rogers, chief executive of North Carolina-based Duke Energy Corp., referring to proposals in Congress to mandate that states derive a minimum percentage of their electricity from renewable sources. Duke has opposed proposals in Congress to establish a national renewable portfolio standard.
Transmission-line projects and wind farms also encounter resistance at the local level from groups that object to the impact on property values, endangered species or scenery. Such opposition can be critical to determining whether projects get built, because they typically require approval from state or local authorities.
In the case of Cape Wind, a group of Cape Cod residents opposed to the project have filed lawsuits in federal court in Massachusetts to block the endeavor, and enlisted powerful allies in Washington to slow the project.