Cape Wind: a 25-square-mile industrial scale wind power plant that would have consisted of 130 wind turbines, each 440 feet tall, and a 10-story electrical service platform housing 30,000 gallons of transformer oil. The turbines would have had 58 red perimeter lights which would flash in unison at night.
Cape Wind would have posed a major threat to the safety of air and sea travel in and around Nantucket Sound, devastated commercial fishing, desecrated a national treasure and sacred Tribal lands, threatened birds and marine mammals, and increased electric rates.
Cape Wind would have posed threats and risks to the rich environment of Nantucket Sound during both construction and operations. A loss of habitat, changes in tidal currents, and harm or mortality to threatened and endangered avian and marine species would have likely resulted. Further, Cape Wind’s electrical service platform, which would have held 30,000 gallons of transformer oil, would have introduced the chance of an oil spill. Cape Wind’s own studies show that in the event of a spill, oil would reach the shoreline of the Cape and Islands in less than five hours. The project would have also disrupted commercial and recreational fishing in the resource-rich shoal area where Cape Wind would be situated.
Historic and Tribal Impacts
Cape Wind would have destroyed the tribal and historic values of Nantucket Sound. The local Wampanoag Tribes of Gayhead/Aquinnah and Mashpee believe Cape Wind would have not only desecrated sacred land, but also harmed their traditional religious and cultural practices. They are supported by the United Southern and Eastern Tribes, 25 federally-recognized Tribes. Wampanoag means “People of the First Light” and, as such, an unobstructed view of the sun rising over the Sound is integral to their way of life and traditions.
In addition, Cape Wind would have adversely impacted hundreds of historic properties dotting the Cape and Islands shorelines as well as several National Historic Landmarks, including the island of Nantucket. The federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation recommended Cape Wind “be denied or relocated” because it would have a “permanent and devastating effect on the historic and cultural properties of the Sound.”
Based on its terminated contracts with National Grid and Eversource, Cape Wind would have added $3 billion in surcharges for Massachusetts ratepayers. Such rate increases would have led to job losses as businesses strove to offset these costs. These contracts have been canceled, due to Cape Wind’s failure to close on financing. Cape Wind would have also harmed the Cape and Islands economy by threatening tourism and commercial fishing and by lowering property values.
Public Safety Threats
Navigational safety – Cape Wind would have threatened the safety of millions of travelers crossing the Sound. The 130 turbines would have jeopardized navigational safety by creating obstructions that ferries, cargo ships, and pleasure craft would have to negotiate not only in clear weather, but in dense fog and highly variable weather conditions characteristic of the Sound. The spinning turbine blades would have also interfered with marine radar.
Aviation safety – Cape Wind would have also posed a significant risk to the 400,000 flights and millions of passengers that traverse Nantucket Sound every year due to radar interference and its location in the center of three airports. It would have also impacted search and rescue efforts.
Cape Wind’s 130 wind turbines, each 440 feet tall, would have been highly visible from the south shore of Cape Cod from Falmouth to Chatham, the eastern shore of Martha’s Vineyard from Vineyard Haven to Edgartown and Cape Pogue, and the northern shore of Nantucket from Wauwinet to Madaket. With hundreds of fixed and flashing navigational and aviation lights, the turbines would have urbanized the night-time sky.