On November 10, the Boston Globe posted my op ed arguing that we need both large hydropower from Canada and offshore wind. The bottom line is: we need it all, including hydro, solar, and as much onshore wind, mostly from northern New England, as we can get.
Even before the announced closing of the Pilgrim nuclear power plant it was clear that we were falling behind on our greenhouse gas reduction requirements (note: requirements, not goals) under the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act. We can’t meet those requirements without every megawatt of renewable energy that we can possibly generate.
With his proposed bill on hydropower, the Governor thankfully focuses on clean power rather than natural gas to replace Pilgrim’s carbon-free energy. That’s good as far as it goes, but my op ed argues that we shouldn’t overlook our own enormous domestic resource—offshore wind.
In response to my piece in the Globe, I received comments saying that I’m overly pessimistic about actually getting hydropower from Canada to southern New England. I dearly hope my concerns are wrong.
But whether or not we can access Canadian hydro, we need offshore wind. If the Administration’s apparent opposition is based on cost, it may be because of reliance on outdated information. As I noted in the Globe article:
The price in the contract between National Grid and Cape Wind, without the 3.5 percent annual escalation factor, was $187 per megawatt hour. Thanks to advances in technology and experience building offshore wind farms, the target in Europe for projects under contract in 2020 is $113 per megawatt hour, which is approximately 40 percent less than the starting Cape Wind price.
Another benefit of offshore wind is that the federal Department of Interior has already awarded leases for three wind farms off our coast.
These wind farms are rated together in excess of 4,000 megawatts. (For comparison, Pilgrim is rated at 680 megawatts.) The Interior Department leases mean that these wind farm sites have already cleared a major hurdle…. The closest of these turbines to shore would be about 15 miles, barely visible in good weather (and more than double the distance of Cape Wind from shore).
And remarkably, Audra Parker of the Cape Wind’s nemesis, the Alliance to protect Nantucket Sound, has announced that these lease sites are superior to Cape Wind’s proposed location.
The coast of southern New England is one of the windiest places in the world. And it’s windiest at the times of day when electricity use peaks, late in the afternoon and in the early evening. Let’s use that wind to build an entire industry, and provide local jobs associated with the construction of wind farms and with the entire supply chain.
Here’s the link to my November 10 op ed:
And here are links to two other pieces that appeared in the Boston Globe this week on offshore wind: