For over a decade the Cape Wind Project has faced opposition off the coast of the Massachusetts. Now power company NStar has thrown its hat in the ring and has agreed to buy power for the proposed wind farm. The catch is the 15 year; $1.6 billion contract will add $1.08 to the monthly bill of the average residential customer in the Bay State.
The idea for the Cape Wind Project is to make a wind farm on Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound off Cape Cod. Many of the residents of the Cape are all for the green wind energy, however concerns have sprung up ranging from worries about obstructing the view to killing migrating birds. It really boils down to a “not in my backyard” type of debate.
The footprint for the Cape Wind Project covers 24 square miles with 130 horizontal axis wind turbines each with a hub height of 285 feet. The turbines would be 4–11 miles offshore. At peak generation, the turbines are projected to generate 454 megawatts of electricity –enough to meet the needs of an estimated 420,000 homes. Additionally, the Cape Wind Project could offset close to a million tons of carbon dioxide every year and is estimated to produce enough electricity to offset the consumption of 113 million gallons of oil annually.
However, the recent news of increased electricity bills for NStar customers has once again stirred the flames of opposition. Because of the Cape Wind Project and the deal made with NStar electricity prices will increase by $1.08 on the monthly bill of the average residential customer in Massachusetts.
Yet there is good news, because of the NStar deal, a Cape Wind commissioned report released Friday estimates, that NStar would reduce wholesale electricity prices for the New England area by $7.2 billion over 25 years. How long the $1.08 increase will last is unknown, or at least unreported, but for now, power from Cape Wind will cost 137% more than conventional power and some folks are not happy about that.
Construction of the Cape Wind Project is scheduled to begin in 2013. The Obama administration noting that it took a decade to simply get approval for Cape Wind Project has vowed to hasten the process for future wind farms. Wind farms such as a project in Virginia that is on track to be the first off shore wind turbine in the U.S. The turbine is to be located in the lower Chesapeake Bay, about three miles from Cape Charles on Virginia’s Eastern Shore and could generate five megawatts of electricity — enough for about 1,250 households.
It is important to note that the current dropping price of natural gas does make wind power look expensive. However, in the long run, wind power is a zero cost renewable energy that has the potential to drop energy prices for all customers.
Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison