Top of Mind: Jim Gordon, Extended Version

You’re a businessman. If you were drawing up a pie chart, how much of Cape Wind is about business opportunity, and how much is about ushering in a bigger change?

JG: That’s a fair question. When you’ve worked as long as we have on this project, and you’ve overcome the obstacles that we have, you cannot be driven by just business principles. …I say in large part, of course, we want this project to be successful. If it isn’t, we’re not going to attract the [financial resources] we need. But I’ve made my career developing cleaner and more efficient energy projects in New England. I didn’t parachute in from another land—we’re a Massachusetts company that has been working in this field for 35 years, and we’re very excited about the direction of our energy future.

There’s another company, First Wind, that has been through the regulatory process and has worked to get projects going onshore. Seems to me that, from a business perceptive, you could have picked easier places to pursue a wind farm than [between the Cape and Islands].

If you look at the East Coast and you realize how densely populated the land is, the major component of wind power is going to come from offshore wind. And as the technology advances incrementally, we’ll be able to go farther offshore. But somebody had to step up.

The Europeans have been doing this since the early ’90s. The United Kingdom is expecting to get 30 percent of their energy from offshore wind—they just announced a 630-megawatt project off the Thames estuary. There are offshore wind farms operating in Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy—we’re falling way behind, yet we have some of the largest offshore wind resources in the world.
…It’s an interesting thing. With oil, coal, and natural gas, you can truck, pipe, or barge it. Because of that reason, historically, power facilities have been located in lower socioeconomic areas, in poorer neighborhoods without the necessary political influence. So there’s really an environmental justice issue here. My point is unlike with oil, and coal, and natural gas—which you can barge, truck, or pipe— with wind, you can’t do that. You have to locate the facility where the wind is….

During the Revolutionary War, the British embargoed salt, something General Washington desperately needed for medicine, for the horses, to salt cod. The Continental Congress put out a penny-a-bushel incentive for the colonists to make salt here. People on the Cape and Islands responded—they had the salty sea and wind, and soon windmills dotted the landscape. They made salt and aided the war effort. In the 1800s, folks from New Bedford, Nantucket, and Cape Cod lit the lamps of the world for industrial machinery. They created energy from whales—they perfected the art, and soon they were managing whaling fleets as far as the Pacific Ocean. In World War II, we took these deep-water ports and made ships to fight fascism. We have the marine and cultural heritage and history. We’ve responded to urgent challenges all throughout our history. What better place to locate America’s first offshore wind farm than in federal waters off the coast of Massachusetts?


  • 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.