Wind energy hits headwinds

Source: By Peter Galuszka, Washington Post • Posted: Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Wind power has taken some hits with the New Year.

A proposed 145-acre, 20-megawatt project in Clarke County is being scuttled because Dominion Resources has shown little interest in buying its power. In New England, a pioneering offshore wind project, Cape Wind, is on the ropes because of the merger of two utilities and opposition by one of the Koch brothers.Cape Wind off Cape Cod might have been the nation’s first real offshore wind farm. It would run 130 turbines in Nantucket Sound with electric utilities buying the output.

But the project’s price tag of $2.5 billion seemed daunting. National Grid had agreed to buy half the power, but another utility, NStar,  wanted to drop its interest in the project when it was being taken over in a $17.5 billion merger with Northeast Utilities.

Cape Wind drew opposition from the usual suspects, such as conservative activist William Koch, who owns millions of dollars’ worth of seafront vacation real estate, and from odd sources such as the late TV anchorman Walter Cronkite, who likewise owned waterfront land.

Closer to Virginia, there have been auctions of offshore areas from wind farms. Dominion has about $50 million in federal funds to build two six-megawatt turbines 27 miles off the Virginia shore. Dominion says it wants to develop wind, but the reality is that it wants to take tiny steps toward it while dominating the market.