It’s a precarious time in the energy story of the Vineyard. Massive offshore turbine development seems all but inevitable and yet no shovels have broken the seabed. And this Sunday a group from the Vineyard and Beacon Hill want to talk about it all, at a forum titled The Island’s Future Blowin, in the Wind.
Last September a group of Vineyarders formed Let Vineyarders Decide in response to what they saw as a power grab by the state over the development of wind power off Island shores. The group has changed its name — it’s now known as POINT (Protect Our Island Now for Tomorrow) — but the skepticism remains unchanged.
And the forum on Sunday night will also include as speakers the two men vying to unseat perhaps the biggest proponent of wind power in the state, Gov. Deval Patrick.
As POINT director Andrew Goldman sees it, he represents a group of concerned citizens standing in the middle of unchecked wind development yelling, “Stop!”
Mr. Goldman said he founded the group to bring attention to attempts by the state to take away local control on energy projects and concentrate decision-making powers in the politically stacked Energy Facilities Siting Board.
“I don’t think it’s a fair assessment to say that I’m anti-wind,” said Mr. Goldman in a telephone interview this week. “I’m against the uncritical acceptance of wind that puts it in the wrong places. There are people that think wind anywhere is the way to go and anyone who opposes it is a NIMBY,” he added.
Sunday night’s forum will include members from the Dukes County Fishermen’s Association (which has filed a federal lawsuit over Cape Wind), members of the Wampanoag tribe (whose cultural claim to Horseshoe Shoal failed to sway the U.S. Department of the Interior on Cape Wind), representatives from the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, as well as gubernatorial candidates Tim Cahill, an independent, and Charlie Baker, a Republican. Although the Patrick administration originally planned to send a spokesman to the forum, Mr. Goldman learned on Tuesday that they would not be sending anyone.
Both Tim Cahill and Charlie Baker have been critical of Cape Wind, and larger wind development in general.
In a meeting with Boston executives in April Mr. Cahill called Cape Wind “an industrial-sized plant in Nantucket Sound.”
Mr. Baker, a former CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care who has publicly expressed doubts about global warming, has not openly denounced wind development but in a statement he expressed wariness.
“I believe that renewable energy is important to our future, but at the same time the state has to be smart about how it invests in clean energy. We can’t support projects that are going to increase the cost of electricity to people and businesses in Massachusetts,” he said.
It is a view Mr. Goldman shares. He said the detriments of wind power are well understood but its benefits are less clear.
“It really has nothing to do with reducing our dependence on foreign oil,” he said, “because less than three per cent of electric generating power in Massachusetts, and nationally, comes from oil. It comes mostly from either hydropower, nuclear or coal.”
Wind power supporters on the Island have claimed that the widespread adoption of electric cars on the Island could reduce its need to ship oil from the mainland but Mr. Goldman remains unconvinced.
“The idea we can be energy independent of America and have our own power is romantic,” he said. “We’ll always be inextricably linked to the energy future of the country.”
The POINT forum on wind begins at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Chilmark Community Center. There is no admission charge. For information call 508-645-9484.