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WHY IS THE BOSTON GLOBE SILENT ABOUT OFFSHORE WIND FACTS

Updated on October 22, 2010

There Is Plenty of News but Almost No Press Coverage

One of the most interesting aspects of the Cape Wind saga is the skill with which the mainstream media have avoided truth and fact. It is easy for Jim Gordon, CEO of Cape Wind Associates, LLC to claim he will save us all money; to cast his spell as someone solely interested in developing renewable energy; to say that offshore wind has been successful in Europe and on and on. He has the most effective ally anyone in his position could want, the press and media. Their refusal to dig for and then print anything substantive to show the facts of offshore wind generally and the problematic European experience specifically allows Gordon to make often wholly incorrect claims and empty promises.

How do the facts about offshore wind's history and current status in Europe ever make it to the general public in the United States if all the major media remain complicit in the fraud? Posts such as this are one way to get correcxt information to the general public. Here is a look at some of the major errors and omissions to which we have been subjected since Jim Gordon first unveiled the Cape Wind project in 2001:

COST OF ENERGY - Jim Gordon said Cape Wind would save an average residential electric customer 10 - 12 cents per month across New England. We now know that an average electric customer, only within the are served by National Grid, will pay more every month and that thanks to a sweetheart bit of language in a new Massachusetts law that cost will rise at a compounded rate of 3.5% every year forever. The Boston Globe seems to ignore this fact and they hope everyone else will too.

RELIABILITY OF WIND - Jim Gordon has always claimed that wind power will stabilize the electric grid and make our power supply more reliable. This is in spite of the undeniable fact that wind power is at best intermittent, unpredictable and unreliable. So is the Boston Globe.

ACTUAL POWER PRODUCTION - Jim Gordon claims that his wind farm will generate up to 468 megawatts of electricity, 184MW on average (37+% capacity). No one anywhere in the world operates offshore wind turbines at this rate of efficiency. 30% is cause for celebration while numbers ranging from 18% to 25% are more the norm. These facts are easily found on the web but the Boston Globe finds it easier to avoid them altogether.

MASSACHUSETTS CITIZENS OVERWHELMINGLY SUPPORT CAPE WIND - Really? The polls which yielded admittedly very high support for this project failed to ask the million dollar question: would you support Cape Wind if you learned that the developer has not been honest and/or that it will cost you more every month for electricity? The Globe could have asked just this one question, but then they would have to be honest with their readers.

CAPE WIND HAS BEEN EXTENSIVELY AND FAIRLY REVIEWED - The truth is that Cape Wind has been helped through often tortured and flawed federal review by unseen hands more concerned with renewable energy slogans than with facts. Why has the Boston Globe not investigated these matters and reported on them?

OFFSHORE WIND IN EUROPE HAS BEEN VERY SUCCESSFUL - This is typical of what we read in the Boston Globe, but it does not square with the torrents of information available on the web about actual offshore wind experience in Europe. While Denmark is the country often cited as the world's leader in offshore wind deployment it also pays the highest rate for electricity of any industrialized nation and has not closed one of its coal-fired power plants. The proposed 200 turbine project off the Irish coast at Arklow Bank was cancelled after the seven GE turbines (identical to what Gordon originally proposed using) failed miserably to meet expectations. The Globe made a big splash about Arklow Bank when it was first announced but has managed to avoid any update on it. Apparently we only need to know about successful wind farms. The Globe has also managed to avoid printing Arklow Bank's developer's statement that the Irish government has reduced subsidies for offshore wind in favor of onshore wind where it believes the gains are far greater.

OFFSHORE WIND DEVELOPMENT CONTINUES TO GROW IN EUROPE - Actually, although we will not read this anytime soon in the Globe, wind power development generally is down as major manufacturers report lagging orders and operating difficulties. Costs for offshore wind in Europe are escalating wildly and actual operating experience is more likely to feature failed bearings, cracked blades, disappointing production, hugely expensive maintenance programs and difficulties integrating wind power into the grid. Most European projects are behind schedule and those that have been in operation for any length of time, such as Horn's Rev I in Denmark, are experiencing catastrophic mechanical difficulties: cracks in their steel foundations and steel monopile foundations sinking into the sea bed. Major wind developers such as Vattenfal and Dong Energy have cancelled or delayed planned projects due to technical problems, cost considerations and a generally less-than-favorable environment for large new wind projects. Did we see Boston Globe headlines about the fact that Vestas, the world's largest wind turbine manufacturer, laid off every one of the workers at its British plants two years ago? Why not? Of course, we also have not read anything in the Globe about Jim Gordon building a new gas-fired plant in western Massachusetts or selling his unbuilt biomass plant in Texas. A large offshore project proposed for British Columbia was denied even the opportunity to bid for a Power Purchase Agreement earlier this year due to the projected high cost of its power. The project had been fully permitted by the provincial government and now is going nowhere. What a great story this would have been for the Globe.

If the Boston Globe actually cared about good journalism and fair analysis it would dig into this story: since Jim Gordon first announced his plans for Cape Wind not one other offashore wind project has been built. Several have been announced only to be cancelled or simply forgotten.

Why? What forces are at work preventing robust development of offshore wind in the United States? More importantly, what forces are at work preventing the full and free exchange of information about the facts of offshore wind power, forces that prevent our press from doing their job?

COPYRIGHT 2010 By Peter A. Kenney

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