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Cape Cod residents air objections to current plans for offshore wind

Cape Cod residents who object to the offshore wind plans for Massachusetts — in whole or in part — met for a four-hour conference Saturday in Hyannis.

More than 200 people turned out for the event, organized by Barnstable residents’ group Save Greater Dowses Beach and others.

Susanne Conley, chair of the Dowses Beach group, said the conference aimed to give voice to people who have been derided for their concerns about offshore wind turbines and the infrastructure they require.

“We have pitched a large tent here,” she said. “We do not think alike about ocean wind farms, but we share this: We have been dismissed, ridiculed, gaslighted by ocean wind developers and the federal and state regulatory agencies and officials that, in my opinion, are giving them a much, much too easy pass.”

Speakers pointed to potential harm to wildlife and fisheries, and to the difficulty of rescuing mariners from a storm if turbines are nearby.

Some questioned the safety of electrical cables under beaches, and said toxic fluids at the on-shore substations could threaten Cape Cod’s drinking water.

Offshore wind supporters have previously disputed the claims of detractors, but no one countered those claims during the conference.

Responding to a recent op-ed in the Cape Cod Times by the Conservation Law Foundation, members of local residents’ groups denied the accusation that they are connected to an “entangled web” of national anti-clean-energy agendas. Critics of the wind opponents have accused them of getting misinformation, and in some cases funding, from climate deniers and the fossil fuel industry.

Bonnie Brady, executive director of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Assoc
Jennette Barnes
Bonnie Brady, executive director of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association, speaks at the "Close to the Wind" conference Saturday in Hyannis.

Some who attended the conference oppose wind farms altogether, while others are fighting the landing of offshore wind cables at Cape Cod beaches. Cables for Vineyard Wind were tunneled under Covell’s Beach via horizontal drilling, and plans for other beaches are similar.

Adam Mirick, a member of Save Dowses Beach, said his group unequivocally supports renewable energy.

“We aren't opposed to offshore wind. We're neutral on that,” he said. “We are opposed to bringing the power onshore. There’s no dark money behind us. We’re a hundred percent volunteer and a hundred percent funded by the donations of our concerned neighbors.”

Opponents called for cables to be landed at industrial sites, such as Brayton Point, rather than on Cape Cod. Mirik said the state should use its bid solicitations to direct the landing of cables to planned locations.

In an interview after the conference, Barnstable Town Councilor John Crow, who was elected in November, said town leaders should have done things differently from the start.

“Seeing this many people here, it would have been nice to have seen this before some of the decisions were made to invite the wind companies, and wind power companies, into our community in the first place,” he said.

Dubbed "Close to the Wind," the event was held at the Hyport Conference Center.

In addition to Save Dowses Beach, speakers represented, among others, the Falmouth Heights-Maravista Neighborhood Association, Barnstable Speaks, ACK for Whales, Green Oceans, the New England Fishermen’s Stewardship Association, the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association, and, appearing by video, Protect Sandbridge Beach, a group that opposes a wind landfall location in Virginia.

Jennette Barnes is a reporter and producer. Named a Master Reporter by the New England Society of News Editors, she brings more than 20 years of news experience to CAI.
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