Chris Perry Column: N.I.O.B.Y.

Chris Perry •

Image 3 Vineyard Wind I Massachusetts US

Raise your hand if you have ever heard of the “Good Neighbor Agreement.

Anyone…? Bueller…? Anyone...?

Outside of a select few, I am not surprised that I see only a few hands go up. Until recently, I did not know anything about the Good Neighbor Agreement either even though I am technically part of it.

So are you.

So are your friends across the street - your family members in town and everyone else who resides on Nantucket.

They are part of this agreement too.

Should you be alarmed that you are part of an agreement that you probably had no idea about despite the fact it will have a significant impact on Nantucket?


The Good Neighbor Agreement was signed on August 27, 2020 between Vineyard Wind, LLC, the town of Nantucket, the Maria Mitchell Association and the Nantucket Preservation Trust. Frankly, I am not sure why the Nantucket Preservation Trust and the Maria Mitchell Association even got involved in the first place. Nevertheless, the bigger question is why did the town of Nantucket jumped on board so quickly when you truly consider the consequences.

As written, the purpose of the agreement is to “establish a long-term relationship between Vineyard Wind and the Nantucket Community to support and promote the parties’ mutual interest in renewable energy development…”

Well, as the Church Lady used to say: “Isn’t that special.”

That all sounds well and good but did you know that this agreement supports the construction of 62 wind turbines at roughly 850 feet tall, approximately 14 miles off our south shore, and easily visible from Nantucket’s shoreline?

But it gets better…

Part of the construction plan includes underwater cable systems required to transport the energy to stations on the mainland.

That should go over well with the fishing industry.

Who is Vineyard Wind, LLC?

Vineyard Wind is a Delaware limited liability company with an office in New Bedford but it is internationally controlled by Iberdrola (a Spanish energy company) and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners. But more importantly, they are about to make a sh**load of money off Nantucket’s coast and at our expense.

Along with several other LLCs such as South Coast, South Fork and Revolution Wind - most of whom are internationally controlled - they have rights to build and maintain wind turbine projects off New England’s coast. More specifically, Vineyard Wind, LLC has lease rights on grid number OCS-A0501 which is located right off the south shore of Nantucket. Some construction has already started in A0501. Consequently, if you see something strange rising from the depths of the sea in the near future, there’s no need to call ACK EYE because your eyesight is 20 / 20. Make no mistake, those turbines will be clear for all to see like the E on top of Doc Ruby’s Grafco Snellen eye chart.

I understand clean energy initiatives are moving forward. That’s not the problem. But, I am concerned about how we ever allowed this to happen so close to Nantucket’s south shore and with a commitment from our entire community via the Good Neighbor Agreement to fall in line and uniformly “promote the benefits” of this plan like an Orwellian soldier.

The party line from a few select, local officials that I have spoken with has been one of “frustration, but we got the best deal possible…”

That “deal” includes $16 million heading Nantucket’s way when certain thresholds are met in the construction phase by Vineyard Wind, LLC. That’s $16 million minus attorney fees for Cultural Heritage Partners who helped negotiate the Good Neighbor Agreement on behalf of the town of Nantucket. It’s a great deal for them and a drop in the bucket for Vineyard Wind. But, it’s not so good for you, me, our friends, our neighbors and everyone else who lives on Nantucket.

“Powerless…No leverage... Limited options….. Federal and State control vs. local control…”

I just don’t believe that.

I believe we could have done better. It’s not the money - it’s the location. If you don’t believe me, just ask any real estate broker and they’ll tell you: Location - Location - Location.

Another look at the Vineyard Wind substation. Photo by Doug Lindley

For a moment, let’s forget about the construction chaos raging in the water just offshore with steel pylons being driven into the ocean floor surrounded by a cement base with oils & lubricants, trash and debris, or the negative effects on marine life. Once completed, do people understand what they are going to see out their kitchen windows or when they are swimming at Cisco?

What I do believe is that the majority of people on Nantucket were sound asleep when this topic first crossed our horizon just a few years ago - including me. We need to wake up. It’s not too late and having Nantucket satisfied with some “concessions” from Vineyard Wind that included “painting the turbines gray and securing motion censored night lights for navigation” is hardly enough to make me feel comfortable with Cultural Heritage Partners representing Nantucket’s best interests at heart.

Moreover, when Cultural Heritage’s Marion F. Werkheiser (counsel to the town of Nantucket) pens a letter to the Bureau Of Energy Management (B.O.E.M.) and opens with “on behalf of our client the town of Nantucket” and talks about “protecting local cultural and historic resources” by endorsing a construction project of wind turbines jammed into the ocean floor within eyesight of Nantucket which is a National Historic Landmark, I have to wonder if a great white shark is feeding in Sesachacha Pond.

The crane ship Orion, now installing the first Vineyard Wind monopile 14 miles off Nantucket. Photo courtesy of Vineyard Wind

My primary concern about the Good Neighbor Agreement has nothing to do with the global debate about fossil fuels vs. renewable energy development. Appropriate renewable energy makes sense and I support any healthy debate regarding global warming, energy, coastal resiliency or climate change. But for the record, it is worth noting that these wind turbine projects hailed as renewable energy are far from green and certainly not clean.

Nevertheless, I will proudly admit that my primary opposition to this project and the Good Neighbor Agreement falls squarely under the heading of: N.I.O.B.Y - Not In Our Back Yard - a close cousin to N.I.M.B.Y.

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62 of the 800-foot GE Haliade-X turbines will be installed to complete the Vineyard Wind offshore wind far. Graphic source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Nantucket has a notorious yet effective tradition of being big fans of N.I.M.B.Y. All one has to do is look at some recent events such as the short-term rental debate, 40Bs and Surfside Crossing to see that we are as good at N.I.M.B.Y. as Trooper Bates is at writing a uniform traffic citation.

For anyone who calls Nantucket “home” please keep in mind: This project isn’t just in your backyard or my backyard. It’s directly in everyone’s backyard.

This community needs to rally together and send a clear message to our Select Board. Money does not solve everything and $16 million will not make up for what we are about to lose. Undoubtedly, they will have another opportunity to negotiate with the offshore wind industry via Cultural Heritage Partners as more construction projects come to the table. Our view from Nantucket’s south shore is about to become a mess and so is the Good Neighbor Agreement.

The irony is very suspicious for us on Nantucket. A bad agreement highlighting a good neighbor who is going to be anything but that.

We are all familiar with Robert Frost’s famous line: “Good fences make good neighbors…”

Well, rows and rows and rows of 1,100-foot wind turbines pile-driven into the ocean floor, looming over Nantucket’s south shore and dominating our pristine ocean views make for terrible ones.

A vessel assisting the Vineyard Wind construction. Photo by Doug Lindley
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