It’s just a guess but it appears the stars, the moon, and the satellites are lining up for Nantucket.
It is still up in the air as to how much that’s worth, but from a public relations perspective, the timing just smells “right” to me.
Since (the town’s law firm) Cultural Heritage Partner’s recent Op-Ed piece, things have been strangely quiet on Nantucket regarding Vineyard Wind. That makes me wonder what’s going on behind closed doors. Outside of Matt Fee who was willing to discuss the matter, the Select Board has been publicly mum on the subject. Additionally, the Maria Mitchell Association and the Nantucket Preservation Trust, co-signers on the Good Neighbor Agreement, canceled scheduled interviews despite the fact that the only thing rising quicker than the first visible wind turbine off Nantucket’s south shore is the local level of uneasiness associated with this eyesore.
So what elixir could be heading our way that might calm our fears?
It is my understanding that the Nantucket Offshore Wind Community Fund has not received any money yet as outlined in the Good Neighbor Agreement. With certain benchmarks satisfied, why the delay?
I have nothing concrete to base this on outside of knowing a little bit about optics, PR, and timing. But with offshore wind projects suffering numerous global setbacks, I predict the check is in the mail. It is an ideal time for that first payment(s) to arrive which should help soothe our soul and clear our conscience.
Strategically, it is Vineyard Wind’s perfect response. As the first of many turbines rise directly off Nantucket’s coastline causing additional scrutiny and angst, it’s the smart move.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea that Nantucket, the Maria Mitchell Association, and the Nantucket Preservation Trust grabbed some money off the table. God love ‘em.
But, what is the cost?
My reservations regarding the Good Neighbor Agreement and the unreasonable expectations placed on the Nantucket community are primarily two-fold:
One: I believe the value of Nantucket’s designation as a National Historic Landmark and the cachet that comes with it is worth more than the reported $16 million heading our way as a result of that agreement. Considering the millions of dollars these billion-dollar companies will secure simply through tax incentives and subsidies alone and knowing this agreement will be paraded up and down the East Coast as a barometer for other communities to follow, I believe Nantucket left something on the table. If the money was front-loaded, I’d feel better. But it’s not, and with payments tied to certain benchmarks, I question whether or not we will ever see the full amount due.
Is it easy to be a Monday morning quarterback?
But that is not a reason for anyone on Nantucket to ignore the situation, fall in line, and simply pretend that we don’t have a potential disaster looming on the horizon that will affect Nantucket for generations to come. Regardless of when you came to the table, I think we could have done better.
Two: In my opinion, the long-term sustainability of offshore wind farms simply doesn’t add up. Seaside communities like Nantucket will become the visual victims of the federal government’s desire to have 30 gigawatts of offshore wind production by 2030. Especially from a financial perspective, what sounded so good a few years ago doesn’t appear so rosy today.
The cracks are already starting to appear.
Recently, Avangrid announced that it was abandoning its Park City Wind project off Connecticut because “unprecedented economic headwinds facing the industry including record inflation, supply chain issues, interest rate hikes have made the project unfinanceable under its existing contracts.”
Avangrid will pay a $16 million dollar penalty to cancel the contract.
Shell and Ocean Winds agreed to pay $60 million to cancel contracts to sell power to Massachusetts from their SouthCoast Wind project.
This past summer, R.I. Energy announced that it was canceling a power purchase agreement with Orsted and Eversource on the Revolution Wind project because the power from the offshore facility was “too expensive for customers.”
Numerous offshore wind companies are trying to renegotiate with various public service commissions over their strike prices. For example, Empire Wind 1 asked for a 35 percent increase. Empire Wind 2 asked for a 66 percent increase and Beacon Wind asked for a 62 percent increase all before any construction was finished knowing full well that the customers will be the ones who will bear the brunt of the skyrocketing construction costs through higher monthly bills down the road.
Locally, the Good Neighbor Agreement requires the Nantucket Community to “support and promote the parties' mutual interests in renewable energy development…”
Are the type of renewable energy projects listed above the kind the town of Nantucket and two non-profits want to support and promote?
The Good Neighbor Agreement also requires the Nantucket parties to use “reasonable good faith efforts to ensure that Nantucket residents and visitors are informed of the benefits of the Projects” and in consultation with Vineyard Wind, “the Nantucket Parties shall use their reasonable best efforts to inform federal, state and local officials of their support for the Projects.”
Are Nantucket residents now part of a PR firm?
It also requires the Nantucket parties to “support appropriately designed and sited renewable energy development”.
Does anyone think that the turbines rising off the Cisco, Surfside, and Madaket beaches are appropriately sited?
Am I being hypocritical?
If I could guarantee that future wind turbines would be placed out of sight - that all monies due the Nantucket Offshore Wind Community Fund were front-loaded, and that one of the many underwater cables running beneath Muskeget Channel carrying electricity to the mainland could be rerouted to Nantucket so everyone on island could plug in and get free electricity - I would drive the barge from New Bedford to the construction site myself.
But for those Select Board members who unanimously signed the Good Neighbor Agreement on behalf of the Nantucket residents and for the Maria Mitchell Association and the Nantucket Preservation Trust, you own this - the good and the bad.
Short-term, maybe you’re right. Perhaps the payments that are coming will help offset your support for what seems to be the inevitable demise of the offshore wind industry. Despite the uninterrupted campaign of propaganda, I just don’t see how offshore wind farms can realistically play a significant long-term role in the present administration’s climate agenda. With that in mind, outside of the payments, I don’t see the upside for Nantucket.
Speaking for the silent majority, it’s hard to know where our
leadership stands. But, it’s worth asking again:
Have we received any money?
If so, who got it and where is it going?
Assuming all benchmarks are satisfied, how much money is earmarked for Nantucket?
Where do we stand on future negotiations?
As an island resident who is now considered a “de facto co-signer” of The Good Neighbor Agreement along with everyone else on Nantucket, inquiring minds would love to know.
Like many on-island, I understand I came to the party a tad late but a little goodwill goes a long way on Nantucket.