Delahunt?s deepwater deceptions

ProjoCongressman and aide are spinning a wind story

By Wendy Williams, Mashpee

For well over a year now, Congressman William Delahunt and his chief aide, Mark Forest, have been telling constituents that “deepwater” wind technology is a viable alternative to Cape Wind, the 130-turbine, 468-megawatt offshore wind-energy project proposed for Nantucket Sound in front of Delahunt constituent Edward M. Kennedy’s Hyannisport home.

Delahunt and Forest don’t tell constituents that these two turbines were financed in part by the oil industry, as well as by substantial government grants“This is not spin,” the congressman wrote in a local newspaper.

It most certainly is.

“Deepwater wind” refers to wind-turbine technology that could safely be built in deep ocean waters. Waters roughly 10 meters deep are currently the norm for offshore-wind-power technology but Delahunt suggests that wind turbines in waters 35 to 45 meters are commercially viable.

Maybe in ten years, Congressman 

Maybe in two decades, experts say, but certainly not any time soon.

Trying to develop the technology is an admirable endeavor, but the public should not be misled as to its likely timeline.

South of Long Island, a 40-turbine project was recently abandoned because the wave heights and water depths made the project commercially prohibitive. The added costs are due to the much stronger structures that must be built to withstand the considerably greater forces.

Delahunt and Forest, neither of whom have a science or engineering background, point to two 5-megawatt offshore turbines erected in deep waters near an oil platform off the west coast of Scotland last summer.

What they don’t tell their constituents is that these two turbines, built in the Beatrice oil field, were financed in part by the oil industry, as well as by substantial government grants. The oil industry is eager to become involved in wind technology at sea. Its justification: The farther from the shoreline the less visible the turbines will be and so the less likely to run into nimbyism.

The oil industry’s Beatrice installation is formally called a “Demonstrator Project.” Thus is the test-project nature of these two turbines made clear. At a cost of many millions of dollars per megawatt, they would never be considered commercial endeavors.

Saying that deepwater wind is commercially available based on the Beatrice project is like saying that American Airlines is ready to run passenger flights to the moon, based on the moonwalk back in the 1960s.

Why is Congressman Delahunt misleading the public?

Deepwater wind is the favorite “alternative” of the wealthy folk who oppose the ambitious Cape Wind project proposed for Nantucket Sound. This project has been delayed for more than six years, primarily because of inexcusable political meddling.

These politically engendered delays have substantially harmed Congressmen Delahunt’s constituents. Steel workers, electrical workers, members of the carpenters and painters unions — all these and others would be employed during the wind project’s construction process. Other maritime-industry unions would be employed throughout the life of the project to provide operation and maintenance services.

Cape Wind developers once hoped to use the Fore River Shipyard, in Quincy, as an assembly point for the parts, which must be shipped in from around the nation. Few in Quincy would dispute that the shipyard could use the business.

Yet at an Army Corps of Engineers public hearing on Martha’s Vineyard Island in December 2004, Congressman Delahunt led the meeting with a lengthy diatribe (no kinder word would adequately describe the congressman’s performance that night) promising “endless litigation” should Cape Wind receive its permits.

Congressman Delahunt should drop his support of self-centered yachtsmen and his indirect support of the oil industry. He should stop threatening Cape Wind’s developers with court cases and start representing the majority of his constituents, who have made clear that they want new clean-energy technologies built in the state.

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