I had to take a break from writing, and haven’t said a word since March 18th – too much on my plate. Business is challenging at SMCo right now, but all is well, projects are good, everyone’s busy, and we’re all in it together, working hard to keep working.
But the Cape Wind announcement in Boston last Wednesday took my mind off that and inspired me to get back to this.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said a lot about Cape Wind. But the best thing he said was, quite simply, “This is the final decision of the United States of America.” Final Decision. Good decision, great decision, unequivocal decision – by the United States of America! How rare is that?
During the past nine years Jim Gordon and his colleagues at Cape Wind have re-defined the words “stamina” and “perseverance.” And I hope – for their sake and ours – that Wednesday’s confirmation gave them a stiff and steady tailwind to propel them to their ultimate destination – the commissioning of the first offshore wind farm in the U.S.
None too soon. The collected intelligence tells us, as Alex Steffen of Worldchanging says, “We have five years to start making big changes, twenty years to finish making them here, and at most forty years to spread those changes to every corner of the world.” Bill McKibben, the longest-running, most articulate chronicler of Climate Change, looks at it differently his new book Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet . He says we have already changed the planet irrevocably, and while we try to minimize the damage our new challenge is to learn to live in this unfamiliar place.
In the U.S. we remain stuck. Still no comprehensive energy bill, still no carbon tax, still no feed-in tariffs. We have plenty of catching up to do, and the Cape Wind decision is a good start.
It’s like we’ve been holding our breath, waiting anxiously for this logjam to come loose. Up and down the east coast developers, communities, and government entities have been waiting for Cape Wind. The state of Massachusetts and the federal government have both identified hundreds of wind “plots” off the coast. They’re ready to award them, and there are many takers waiting anxiously. Cape Wind will be the first of many.
I doubt it will be trouble-free; I’m certain there are mistakes to make and learning to do. I remember nine years ago when Cape Wind first started; they hadn’t a clue what they were getting into and they were surprised by the firestorm of resistance that met their plans. There are many things they could have done better, had they only known. There could have been a stronger package of local community benefits. But who knew? And what is ever perfect?
On Martha’s Vineyard, I’m thrilled to see Vineyard Power our very own community-owned cooperative offshore-windfarm-to-be, taking shape and making big progress. As the membership creeps toward 1000, I’m beginning to think this bold effort to create (and manage) a membership of thousands and pull off the biggest development project in the history of the Vineyard truly has a chance.
Meanwhile, we’ll be pulling hard for Cape Wind to leap over each hurdle and for many others to follow suit. Onward we go!!