December 1, 2004

Public Forum on Proposed Offshore Wind Farm

DEIS Public Hearing
December 16, 2004
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Room 10-250
registration 6pm; hearing 7-11pm
Contact Person: Clifford Goudey

Summary:No one doubts the finite nature of the world's fossil fuel reserves. However, how to contend with those limited resources is a topic of much debate. In the U.S., some favor our continued dependence on imported energy; others argue that our own natural resources should be exploited for indigenous oil, gas, and coal resources at a more rapid rate. Another view holds that renewable sources of energy offer an alternative for maintaining our standards of living.

Wind energy is one form of renewable energy - one that currently provides less that 1% of the electricity generated in the U.S. Some experts believe that wind power can become a significant contributor to our nation's energy mix in the next several decades. For years the focus has been on promising land-based locations. However, interest has now shifted to placing wind turbines in offshore areas (see figure at left). This is due to the disproportionate distribution of population and industry along our coastal zones and the cost of power transmission as well as the enhanced wind energy resources offshore. As a result, we are now confronted with proposals to site wind farms off our coastlines.

The Cape Wind project hopes to be the first offshore wind farm in the United States. It has proposed building 130 wind turbines in the center of Nantucket Sound, on Horseshoe Shoal, to produce 420 megawatts of power. The Army Corps of Engineers has led a review process of that plan and has now completed a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for which public comment is sought.

Four public hearings are being held for this purpose. Though the project is proposed for off the shores of Cape Cod and Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard Islands, the project has implications throughout the Commonwealth and region. Therefore, MIT Sea Grant is providing a venue for Boston area stakeholders concerned with this issue.

The impacts and opportunities of the proposed project need to be understood. Voices both pro and con need to be heard. We look forward to seeing you at this event.

Cliff Goudey, Outreach Coordinator
MIT Sea Grant College Program