Cape Wind Response to Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Op Ed in Wall Street Journal, July 18, 2011
Over the past eight years Robert F Kennedy, Jr. has been attacking the Cape Wind project, while also calling for the greater use of wind and solar power as alternatives to coal. In so doing, Mr. Kennedy has been derided by those across the political spectrum who say his misleading objections mask an entitled and hypocritical objection to the aesthetics of wind turbines six miles off his family’s waterfront compound.
The nation’s leading environmental organizations have come out in support of Cape Wind including one affiliated with Mr. Kennedy, the Natural Resources Defense Council that found Cape Wind to be, “the largest single source of supply-side reductions in CO2 currently proposed in the U.S.”
Today, Mr. Kennedy’s hypocritical attacks of Cape Wind continue, in the form of an Op Ed in the Wall Street Journal in which he draws misleading comparisons that cannot be reconciled with his public policy positions. While Mr. Kennedy has commercial involvement with solar power (a needed part of our energy mix), in New England solar power costs two to three times more than offshore wind power. Yet Mr. Kennedy offers no objection to solar projects.
Kennedy also faults Cape Wind’s contract to sell power to Massachusetts by drawing false and misleading comparisons to a Vermont power contract for the foreign import of large-scale Canadian hydro power. Ironically, however, Kennedy also fought vociferously against those very hydro projects that he now puts forward as the preferred solution. Kennedy neglects to mention that Massachusetts, unlike Vermont, would require new electric transmission projects through the northern forests of three states to bring in significant additional supplies of hydro power from Quebec, a very costly and uncertain prospect.
Mr. Kennedy also ignores the fact that over the past 14 years Massachusetts has consistently set energy policies that do not regard imported large scale Canadian hydro power as ‘renewable’ power worthy of pubic incentives. Rather, Massachusetts has sought to create jobs in Massachusetts by nurturing new clean energy industries closer to home that can make us more energy , while diversifying our industry and energy supply.
Notably, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (MDPU) carefully considered the objections put forward by Kennedy in its review of Cape Wind’s contract with National Grid. The MDPU stated as follows in its 350 page decision approving Cape Wind’s contract: “[I]t is abundantly clear that the Cape Wind facility offers significant benefits that are not currently available from any other renewable resources. We find that these benefits outweigh the costs of the project.”
The MDPU estimated that the bill impact from Cape Wind to electric consumers in the contract would amount to a bill increase of only $1.25 for a typical residential customer, an amount that would be even less if fossil fuels rise in the future. And Cape Wind avoids the high environmental, public health and national security external costs of fossil fuel against which Mr. Kennedy has long campaigned.