Top of Mind: Jim Gordon, Extended Version

By James Burnett | Boston Magazine |

JB: This business opportunity that you saw—when you were talking about being in the gas lines—sometimes it sounds driven by environmentalism, but at other times by energy security, too?

JG: When I started in this business, the United States was importing 28 percent of its energy. We went through these two embargoes, and we recognized that there’s a cartel of foreign energy producers that in effect can have a significant impact on our economy and our national security, so what drove me to get into this business was I felt that it was important to move to greater energy independence. I’m sad to say that now we’re importing over 60 percent of our energy from foreign suppliers.

…We wind up in a precarious situation. Just a year ago the price of oil was $145 per barrel. We find ourselves in an economic crisis and, yes, it was credit markets and a housing bubble, but also when the cost of gasoline is $4.50, and it costs $3.50 for a gallon of heating oil, that has a very negative impact on our economy as well.

When we flick the light switch on, is that going to trigger a mountaintop in Appalachia to blow up? Is that going to trigger a barge moving from a Saudi Arabian port here or liquefied natural gas from Nigeria? We take for granted where our energy comes from, and I firmly believe that if we can locally harvest sustainable energy sources then we’re going to improve the health, the prosperity, and the environment of our communities.

JB: Did you go into the energy business with a thick skin, or has being in the business given you one?

JG:
I grew up in a middle-class household. My dad owned a couple of corner grocery stores in the Allston-Brighton area, and since I was 12, I would go after school or on weekends and work at my father’s grocery store. It was a very interesting community—it was blue-collar, it was loaded with college students, and in the ’60s and ’70s era, it was a great education. You learn how to deal with people.

…The thick skin comes from the fact that even though some of the criticism is leveled at me personally, I don’t take it personally. I understand there are people who have a fear of the unknown; I understand there is a resistance to change; I understand people may lash out in different areas, if they’re concerned about their property values or a change in the landscape. No matter how unfounded the fear may be or the criticism leveled at me may be, I just don’t take it personally.

JB: With noteworthy political opponents like Senator Edward Kennedy, did you ever have the opportunity to make your case, one-on-one?

JG:
I have a lot of respect for Senator Kennedy—I did have a meeting with him. It was a very amicable meeting. …I’m just hoping he will look at the record and recognize that Massachusetts wants a renewable-energy future and that our citizens want a better future for their children. Certainly, I’m hoping he will at some point embrace this project

I’m grateful to Governor Patrick and [Energy and Environmental Affairs] Secretary Ian Bowles, who…have outlined very ambitious goals of getting 2,000 megawatts of electricity from wind in Massachusetts, and have realized that most of that will come from offshore wind. The legislature has been very supportive of this project.

  • Cliff

    This feel good story is missing the ugly truth. Majority of Cape and Islands is against. The Wampanoag Tribes have filed a Federal objection to protect their burial grounds. The FAA has issued a PRESUMED HAZARD on the project. Mass Historical objects. USCG has told the Mass Fisherman’s Partnership they will be kicked out once the industrial plant is built. The MMS report states that this electricity will cost twice what we pay to produce, and that is after the $70,000,000 plus in federal and state tax subsidies. There is a 40,000 gallon, ten story transformer filled with toxic oil in the middle of this project. Cape Winds OIL SPILL ANALYSIS states that there is greater than 90% chance the Cape and Islands will get hit with an oil spill in the event of a rupture. The Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce is against the project. The Town of Barnstable and the Cape Cod Commission are suing the State to stop this project. Only 5 miles off the beaches, it is the size of the island of Manhattan New

  • Cliff

    This project will endanger millions of passengers a year that pass through these foggy waterways and air routes. The NPVA, Steamship Authority and Hy-line Cruise lines object to this project being placed in the middle of three shipping channels. The 3 airports filed appeals with the FAA to protect the 400,000 flights a year in this airspace. The FAA has confirmed radar interference and issued a “Presumed Hazard”. In the 8 years that this highly conflicted site has been fought, new technologies such as Facebook, Twitter and deep water floating wind platforms have been invented. Just like the Hindenburg, once considered the future of air travel, Cape Wind’s technology is already a dinosaur. Nantucket Sound, our beaches are the heart and soul, the economic engine that is what makes the Cape and Islands such a unique place to get away from the industrialized world we live in. It is not the place to build a 44 story, 24 square mile industrial plant. The millions of dollars this private d

  • Hans

    Good interview and a very human angle to a story that needs to be told. Let the naysayers keep talking. It is just a great pity that these folks never have learned to listen.

  • Soren

    My response to Cliff on his long comments of untrue statements shall be some facts from an off shore wind farm in another part of the world with very similar geographical conditions as Cape Cod and Nantucket Sound.
    Only 1.3 miles from Copenhagen in Denmark a 20 turbine wind farm producing 40 MW or 90 million KWh/yr has been in operation since 2000. It is close to a very busy shipping strait between Denmark and Sweden and within a few miles from Copenhagen's large international airport. The wind mills sits in 10 to 16 ft of water providing 3 % of the electricity for Copenhagen. Today more than 6,000 wind turbines in Denmark provide 20% of the energy expected to rise to 50% in 2030.
    Denmark has 5.5 million people similar to MA and is 16.500 sqmiles (MA is 8,300 sqm) Denmarks coastline is 1,000 miles (compared to 200 miles for MA.) and most of it is used for recreational use (a lot of sailing) and tourism. The country is flat and with similar vegetation and soil as Cape Cod.
    Two more

  • Soren

    Two more off shore wind farms are also in operation and three more are being planned. Denmark today gets 20% of electrical energy from windmills, 6,000 plus of them. In 2030 the wind mills are expected to cover 50%. Europe has installed 65% of worlds MW wind turbines. United States 15%. Wind technology is growing with 30%/yr
    So to all people in Cape Cod and the rest of MA wind turbine technology as alternative energy is growing and growing and growing and the way to go. Make a trip to Denmark and see for yourself

  • Peter

    The area Cape Wind wants to use is the center of Nantucket Sound. Boaters do not avoid it, they crowd into it. And, the ferries often tack into these waters in bad weather to avoid being broadside to wind and waves. Both the steamship Auithority and the private ferry operator oppose this project for safety reasons. Tell the truth, Jim.