Bush Green-Lights Cape Wind; Pass the Popcorn, Please!

Promoted from diaries, with some maniacal laughter mixed in. – Moe Lane.

Yr humble correspondent recently provided a run-down on the Cape Wind Project, a private initiative to construct a 130-tower windfarm in Nantucket Sound.

As it happens, offshore Massachusetts has the combined advantages of being ideally suited to wind power, while being relatively close to population centers. It has the distinct disadvantage of also being relatively close to Nantucket Island, Martha’s Vineyard, and a small but politically-influential compound at Hyannis Port. He-he-he.

One of the last official acts of George W. Bush as President was to give the project the go-ahead; the final Environmental Impact Statement was published last week; it rated the project’s environmental impact as “negligible”, apart from a “moderate” impact on the scenery.

Ted Kennedy sunbathing, the EIS notes, has an “ungodly” impact on the scenery. Just kidding.

Now it’s up to President Obama to either advance his green agenda or piss off New England’s rich & powerful. Without his interference, construction on the project could begin within a year.

Perhaps most shocking of all is the economics of wind energy, as detailed in an article in today’s Wall Street Journal:

Tufts economist Gilbert Metcalf ran the numbers and found that the effective tax rate for wind is minus-163.8%. In other words, every dollar a wind firm spends is subsidized to the tune of 64 cents from the government. The Energy Information Administration estimates that wind receives $23.37 in government benefits per megawatt hour — compared to, say, 44 cents for coal. Despite these taxpayer crutches, wind only provides a little under 1% of U.S. net electric generation.

I don’t know what to hope for here: a messy policy decision for the rookie President, a messy public snit on the part of the Kennedys, et al, or the defeat of uneconomic project whose only promise lies in its guarantee of the disposal of large sums of public money.

Maybe we’ll get a trifecta!