[Cape Wind Associates and Jim Gordon do wonderful work in developing renewable electrical capacity. Decentralized renewable energy is the only alternative to America's monolithic national power grid (comprising East, West, and Texas). As energy becomes more scarce its distribution will change dramatically, so the locations of wind and solar projects are critical, as are their numbers.
If too few renewable power stations are built, those locations could become isolated oases, both coveted and resented. But if enough are built, they will have the electrical capacity to share overflow and backup on a decentralized grid. That bespeaks a level of social complexity and hope which I don't see in the other scenario -- a few totally isolated wind projects and solar projects, each totally dependent on good weather, the virtue of their own security forces, and the mercy of their blackout-dwelling neighbors. -JAH]
In response to the recent publication of Mike Kane's "Renewables" (Part 1), Jim Gordon, president of Cape Wind Associates, has requested a correction.
Jim Gordon wrote the following to FTW:
It is true that Cape Wind's power will flow first into the homes, schools and businesses on the Cape and Islands but if Cape Wind is producing more power than the Cape demands in a given hour then that additional increment of power will flow off the Cape to other users.
I would appreciate a correction.
In response to this, our reporter wrote back:
The scenario in which I was pointing to the Cape & Islands receiving the totality of energy produced by Cape Wind was that of a natural gas/oil crisis. In such a case, my understanding is that the energy from Cape Wind would be consumed entirely by the Cape and Islands, as there would be no surplus in such conditions.
Do you have any further comment on this?
Jim Gordon responded with the following:
As far as an oil or natural gas crisis is concerned
If you are referring to the crisis of JAN 14-16, 2004 Cape Wind would have been producing an average of about 400mw around the clock. Since the Cape and Islands winter peak is well below that, we would have not only supplied all of Cape Cod's electricity but would have supplied vitally needed power to other areas as well.
This fact is confirmed in a DOE report to the NE-ISO Fuel Diversification Task Force.
The other important benefit is that Cape Wind's power would have freed up natural gas for the heating markets helping out with critically needed gas supply and shaving some of the skyrocketing scarcity pricing that the market experienced during those brutally freezing days.
The Cape and Islands would utilize more electricity within the context of the unprecedented fossil fuels crisis that we see coming. The crisis of January 2004, where the New England area was diverting natural gas to deal with bitter cold temperatures and decreasing supply, is minimal compared to the crash-and-crawl ahead.
When natural gas and oil prices get high enough, Cape Cod residents will likely take advantage of the local renewable electricity and use electric heaters. Thus their winter peak will be much higher.
Renewable energy projects benefit those closest to them. Even the surplus that Mr. Gordon says would benefit "other areas" would likely benefit areas of fairly close proximity, as energy travels the path of least resistance - whoever is closest to it, gets it.
Perhaps Cape Wind would have surplus energy to sell off to the grid if the project were up and running now, but in the context of a massive gas & oil crisis, Cape Wind's proximity dictates it will primarily (if not entirely) benefit the Cape and Islands. As hydrocarbon depletion worsens, prices will increase, making renewable energy sources cheaper, and more reliable, than their hydrocarbon counterparts.
Inevitably, this will lead to the use of electric heating systems that are already widely used throughout Europe.
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