Here’s why Cape Cod groups have doubts about the offshore wind industry

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HYANNIS — Ever since Massachusetts’ offshore wind industry took off, a group of Cape residents say their concerns about potential harm to the environment and public health have been ignored and ridiculed.

There they held a summit meeting.

More than 300 people gathered in a conference room at the Highport Conference Center in Hyannis on Saturday to hear speakers from Cape Cod, Maine, Rhode Island and Virginia address many of residents’ concerns. Mentioned.

One of the themes of the speakers is what they claim is a lack of information about both the potential benefits and drawbacks of utility-scale offshore wind farms.

Avangrid and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners’ Vineyard Wind, a 62-turbine facility in the waters south of Martha’s Vineyard Island, is under construction and sent its first power to the grid earlier this month. The company is proposing two other wind farms, Park City Wind and Commonwealth Wind, also south of Martha’s Vineyard.

Lisa Quattrocchi-Knight, co-founder and president of Green Oceans, cited wind farms and the COVID-19 pandemic as similarities. Although the global economy has been paralyzed during the pandemic, the Food and Drug Administration still requires vaccine companies to conduct placebo-controlled trials to prove their vaccines help prevent COVID-19, he said. Ta. Companies also had to identify any side effects.

She called for similar studies to be conducted on the impacts of offshore wind farms.

“We need to know the benefits as well as the harms,” ​​she says. “Why are we giving these (offshore wind) companies something like a pass? Why are governments letting this go? And I think the coronavirus pandemic is going to go hand in hand with this climate crisis. I would argue that it was just as much of a crisis.”

Concerns about offshore wind power off Cape Cod

1. Cables located in environmentally sensitive locations

Quattrocchi-Knight and other speakers hinted that offshore wind development should be halted due to damage to the ocean, marine life and radar interference, but the cables carrying the electricity should not be moved from the coasts of Dowse and Craigville. Some complained about plans to lay it under town roads and sensitive environments. region.

They point out that Canal Power Station and Brayton Point Power Station are good alternatives for power cable landings because they are connected to the grid. This will avoid laying cables in environmentally sensitive areas and protect the Cape’s only source of water, the aquifer.

2. Possibility of oil and dielectric fluid leakage

Cliff Carroll, who founded windstop.org after the now-defunct Cape Wind project was proposed, said potential oil leaks from substations and transmission cable sheaths pose a threat to aquifers. Ta. The region’s drinking water comes from aquifers, which are recharged by rain and snowmelt.

He focused on the proposed substation at 8 Shootflying Hill Road as it relates to its size and location, sloping away from Lake Wequaquet and the wellhead protection zone.

He said it didn’t seem prudent to store 125,000 gallons of dielectric fluid, a material used as an insulator in high-voltage systems, on a substation site that sits above an aquifer. . That’s in addition to 45,000 pounds of a cooling gas called SF6, which the federal Environmental Protection Agency rates as the most potent of all greenhouse gases, he said.

3. Wind power company finances

Avangrid will close power purchase agreements for its Park City Wind (Craigville Beach) and Commonwealth Wind (Dows Beach) projects in the fall in a bid to secure new contracts with better terms in the next wind power procurement round. was withdrawn. Local civil society groups argue that offshore wind companies should not be able to proceed with the permitting process while their finances are in jeopardy.

Avangrid leaders said they hope to leverage cooperation among Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut aimed at coordinating the selection of offshore wind projects. The Healey-Driscoll administration announced the partnership in the fall, an implementation that could expand regional benefits, leverage cost savings, boost regional economic development, create jobs, and promote environmental justice and equity. The aim is to introduce possible large-scale projects.

Avangrid says its projects have been challenged by supply chain issues, expenses related to the Ukraine war, inflation and rising interest rates, resulting in higher overall costs and completion before economic conditions deteriorated. It is said that there was no offset under the previous agreement.

4. Health effects of electromagnetic fields or EMFs

Several speakers discussed the electromagnetic fields (EMF) generated by power cables and their impact on the health of people who spend time at the beach or who live and work along the cable route that carries power to the Shute Flying Hill Road substation. I’m concerned about potential harm. Avangrid claims that the cable can be buried deep enough to ignore EMF.

Dr. Gary Peters, a retired orthopedic surgeon, said that while electric fields are shielded by the concrete cable casing, magnetic waves are not. Most research into the health effects of magnetic waves from power lines has been done on overhead lines 40 to 50 degrees above ground, rather than on cables 5 feet underground.

‘Black finance is no good’: Groups questioning wind power generation claim they are not receiving funding from fossil fuel interests

In comments to a friendly audience, Adam Myrick of Save Greater Downs Beach and Bob Schulte of Barnstable Speaks said in an op-ed that Nick Krakoff of the Conservation Law Foundation said their organization It categorically denies claims that it is funded by: They receive funding from members of the organization and, in the case of Barnstable Speaks, from local businesses.

“We are neutral when it comes to offshore wind,” Myrick said. “There is no dark money behind us.”

Town of Barnstable officials, some town council members, and representatives from the Cape Province attended the summit.

“These are the oceans we work with and enjoy,” said Suzanne Conley, Save Greater Dow’s Beach Steering Committee Chair. “We have the right and the duty to ask questions to protect everything.”

Anne Brennan is a staff writer and managing editor at The Times. Contact abrennan@capecodonline.com. Or follow her on X: @AnneBrennancct

Heather McCarron writes about climate change, the environment, energy, science and the natural world, in addition to news and features for Barnstable and Brewster. Contact us at hmccarron@capecodonline.com or follow us at X @HMcCarron_CCT..

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