Submitted by Jeff Buster on Sat, 06/03/2006 - 18:39.






Save our Nantucket Sound




                    When you go to Cape Cod this summer this is the sign you’ll see stuck in the grass on many front lawns.  It is the same size and construction (corrugated plastic “cardboard” over a wire wicket-like poke-it into-the-grass support)  as a 2’ x 3’ political sign.  My friend Charlie Jodrey grabbed one for me because he knew of my interest.


The sign is a response to Jim Gordon’s 5 year old + plan to place 100 plus multi-megawatt wind turbines in Nantucket Sound.  I went to one of the first Army Corps of Engineer’s public meetings in Boston over 5 years ago.  As the project has wound  through the permitting process, the concept of putting large turbines offshore  has run into a more and more organized local opposition.    The primary objection regards the proposed turbines imposition on the present view shed.  I am not sympathetic with this view objection. 


Although I am a strong proponent of using turbines to capture wind energy,  I am sympathetic with certain of the objections to the Nantucket project.   I don’t think wind turbines look objectionable, and noise is definitely not an issue, but putting wind turbines in Nantucket Sound is a bit like putting wind turbines in Yosemite National Park or in Yellowstone National Park.  Nantucket Sound is already  heavily utilized as a recreational area  - I certainly don’t think the area is appropriate for an offshore oil drilling rig, and thought there is no possibility of oil pollution from a wind turbine tower, the wind farm does constitute a utility and therefore can be seen as incongruous with the recreation uses.   This isn’t, however,  an argument which really holds up in the face of global warming.  If we are going to gobble up energy, we need to produce it cleanly, and the Nantucket project would help in this.  Too bad the Sound is the first place being looked for to place the wind farm (water depth is ideal at 20 meters) rather than further off shore. 


My main objection to the Nantucket Project is that Mr. Gordon will be harvesting the public trust winds without any obligation to pay the public for them. 


That’s the irony with the “not for sale” language on the sign.   There  never was  a cost to Mr. Gordon for his proposed wind farm to occupy the federal off shore waters of  Nantucket Sound.    The lawn sign is mis-leading because Mr. Gordon would not have had to buy an underwater land lease from the Federal Government. All Mr. Gordon needed was a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.   And only now is there beginning to be discussion – Senator Kennedy included - about a lease for the right to harvest the public trust winds on Federal property.   


HOW ABOUT IN OHIO?  Is anyone here talking about the equitable regulation and leasing of the public trust winds on Lake Erie or any of the Great Lakes?   Demanding compensation for taking a resource off of public lands (ground, air, or water)  isn’t a novel or untried idea.   Oil and gas leases – on shore and off shore - require payment to the public treasury.  To get radio spectrum for cell phone wavelengths through the air,  telephone company’s need to buy it at auction from the Federal Communications Commission. 


When Ronn Richard head of the Cleveland Foundation, met with General Electric Company reps and other wind advocates in Cleveland a few months back, we heard that “50 turbines” might be placed off Cleveland in Lake Erie.    I think Mr. Richard is discussing 50 turbines prematurely - getting too far out ahead.   Bill Spratley, head of Green Energy Ohio, and other GEO protégés need to bring all the Great Lakes stakeholders (including 8 US states and 2 Canadian provinces) together to develop a wind energy planning model for the Great Lakes.  We can look to offshore wind farms in Europe for suggestions.


The underwater lands below the Great Lakes (out to the Canadian boundary)  are state owned, not federally owned, as is the case with Nantucket Sound.  So there is the potential for mayhem if each state and provinces proceed individually.  The present Great Lakes water use agreements don’t address the placement of wind turbines, nor is the harvesting of the winds addressed.    


I encourage GEO, the Cleveland Foundation,  and the University of Toledo (a natural venue for the discussion, as the University presently houses discussion of Great Lake’s waters – or Cleveland could vie for the venue – that would need funding)  and other wind energy proponents from Buffalo to Chicago  to  direct their attention first to overall planning on the Great Lakes, including an international PUBLIC TRUST WIND treaty, ratified by the United States’ and Canadian federal governments .  


After we get the planning in place, then let’s get wind working on the Great Lakes to make our region’s and the globe’s air cleaner, to make our region more energy-cost competitive, and to help all Great Lakes areas stop sending billions of dollars out of their local economy to buy coal to produce electricity.


 Ohio may think that we can go it alone, but I believe we must obtain public support – and have large scale planning in place -  for wind generation on the Great Lakes before pushing any specific wind farm project – if we don’t get our priorities straight – Ohio’s wind advocates and their projects may be vulnerable to a groundswell of anti-turbine-ism similar to Nantucket Sound’s. 



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Short list of who needs to be in NEO wind planning process

Jeff, you clearly put lots of thought into this insightful analysis and for once I see a big picture forming around developing wind industry here in NEO and the Great Lakes region...  you've listed a few organizations and folks who should lead developing a regional wind strategy - in this case, regional being multi-state and multi-national. That fits with Great Lakes restoration and makes sense...

Can you put together a complete list of who must be at the table and suggestions for next steps - we can set up a virtual community for them and the big picture, and host a roundtable on the big picture... what else?