As Cape Wind seeks funding for its offshore wind turbine project, two powerful Massachusetts business groups attempted to take the air out of its sails with full-page ads in three Massachusetts newspapers Thursday.
See the rebuttal of this story here.
“Our group is about job-creation and competitiveness. It’s not about Cape Wind, per se. It’s about electricity costs and the impact they’ll have on job loss in the Commonwealth,” Massachusetts Competitive Partnership President (MACP) Dan O’Connell told the News Service Thursday afternoon. “We’re very supportive of clean energy. Our members are leaders in energy conservation and deployment of cost-effective clean energy. We support land-based wind, which is less than half the cost of what Cape Wind is going to be.”
MACP and the Associated Industries of Massachusetts took out full-page color ads in the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald and the Cape Cod Times, depicting a grassy shore with words of warning laid across the clear blue sky and the phone numbers for members of the state’s congressional delegation.
The ad claimed many of the jobs associated with the project would be outsourced, putting in question the estimate of 600 to 1,000 jobs, and said it would make Massachusetts’ energy costs – which are already double those in North Carolina and Texas – even less competitive with those states. The ad opens by saying Bay State businesses can’t afford Cape Wind and closes saying the project “does not make sense.”
“AIM’s been pretty relentlessly anti-Cape Wind for a long time now, and I think the Competitive Partnership has been, too – more behind the scenes,” Cape Wind spokesman Mark Rodgers told the News Service. “What was a surprise was that they waste money on these ads at this juncture. Cape Wind has been under close review for over 10 years, and we have all of our approvals and we’re moving forward.”
Rodgers rejected the notion that the offshore wind project, which he said would increase electrical bills by about 1 or 2 percent, would make the state less competitive.
“The only way Massachusetts can be competitive in the long run is to be innovative and tap its own energy resources, like offshore wind, and it has an opportunity with Cape Wind to be a leader in the country in doing that,” Rodgers said. “You’re not going to be able to be competitive in the long-run as an energy importer, which is what we are now. We don’t have any of our own coal or oil or natural gas.”
O’Connell said cheaper alternatives include hydroelectric power from Canada, wind from Maine and natural gas, which is extracted as close as New York and Pennsylvania – which has drawn the ire of environmentalists concerned about the extraction process known as fracking.
“It’s clear that the regulatory process in the states where the gas is being extracted, and so far that’s not in Massachusetts, needs to be tight and appropriate and prevent any groundwater impacts from happening, and that is possible and it’s happening,” O’Connell said.
O’Connell said that while the permits for the project are in place, the Court of Appeals sent back a Federal Aviation Administration approval, and said while the project is collecting investors it is seeking a Department of Energy loan guarantee. New U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz hails from Fall River.
Rodgers said it has been a “few years” since the last ad against the project, and said he was “puzzled” to see an ad, when he said all the hurdles save financing have been cleared.
“They’re fighting the same old losing battles and making the same old losing arguments, but we’re focused on the future. Cape Wind is about launching a new industry in the United States right off the coast of Massachusetts,” Rodgers told the News Service. He said, “We’re ready now. We’ve got all our approvals. We’ve got our lease. We have an approval for a constructions operations plan. We’re in our financing phase. We expect to complete that by the end of this year, and then we can proceed to project construction.”
The project was first proposed in 2001, and in the permitting and planning process it has employed 40 people in Massachusetts, Rodgers said.
O’Connell initially said there was “unanimous consensus” to oppose Cape Wind from the board members, which include executives from Suffolk Construction, Northeast Utilities, Raytheon, Liberty Mutual, Partners Healthcare and other major Bay State corporations. O’Connell later clarified that Tom May, president and CEO of Northeast Utilities, “abstained.” Northeast Utilities merged with NStar last year, after NStar made an agreement with the state to purchase 27.5 percent of Cape Wind’s power.
O’Connell said the ad was in response to Cape Wind seeking a loan guarantee from the federal government, an effort backed by all members of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation.
Environmentalists went after Cape Wind opponent The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, claiming the group is part of a “shell game” backed by coal baron Bill Koch, founder of the energy company Oxbow.
In a statement, Audra Parker, president and CEO of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, said that ad “is clearly the beginning of the end for Cape Wind.” Parker said, “John Fish, Jack Connors, Bob Kraft and the CEOs of companies like EMC, Raytheon, Staples and Partners – the state’s leading civic leaders and biggest employers – are saying today that Cape Wind will send jobs overseas, cost us millions unnecessarily and drive away potential new employers. Most tellingly, the CEO of Northeast Utilities and NSTAR, Tom May, is a leading board member of this group that is saying ‘no’ to this wasteful project. It is time that political leaders joined these civic and business leaders in telling Cape Wind to pull the plug.”