Democrats Disagree over Wind Energy

Obama was in Ohio on Friday visiting a wind turbine parts factory, and promoting his plan for "green jobs."  Low oil prices, however, have resulted in a downturn for the wind industry. According to the New York Times

...some of those jobs in the wind industry are becoming casualties of the economic slump. North Dakota-based D.M.I. Industries, which manufactures turbine towers, is laying off 20 percent of its workers across three plants - in Tulsa, Okla.; Stevensville, Ontario; and West Fargo, N.D.  The news comes barely six months after the company announced expansion plans that would make it the "largest wind tower manufacturer in North America."  "Quite frankly, I was shocked," the mayor of West Fargo, Rich Mattern, told The Associated Press earlier this month. "I thought they were bulletproof. I never guessed that they would be in trouble."  L.M. Glasfiber, a Danish turbine company, also announced 150 layoffs last week at a blade-making plant in Arkansas. And Gamesa, a Spanish turbine maker, said it was initiating layoffs at an Eastern Pennsylvania factory - though it was expanding a factory in the western part of the state, which can make larger blades.

Also on Friday, the Minerals Management Service, part of the Department of the Interior, issued its environmental impact statement saying there was "no serious environmental threat."  The project, however, is right in Senator Kennedy's back yard, and as such has been fought by the senator for years.

Homeowners and boaters on the cape, including Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, have fought the project for eight years, saying it would hurt wildlife, fishing and tourism and spoil the beauty of Nantucket Sound.  Opponents have sued to stop the project, known as Cape Wind, and more challenges are certain, keeping the path to construction bumpy despite what supporters on Friday called a crucial victory.  The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, a group formed to fight the project, suggested that the Bush administration had unscrupulously rushed to approve it before President-elect Barack Obama takes office next week.

Of course, "aides to Mr. Kennedy made a point of saying Friday that an obstructed view was not among the senator's concerns."  There are several other hurdles before the project could go ahead, but the battle lines are being drawn:

Cape Wind supporters say the project would ultimately supply 75 percent of the electricity for Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. But others have cautioned that users' electricity rates will probably rise sharply. Representative Bill Delahunt, a Democrat from Cape Cod who is against the project, said in a statement that it could potentially double power costs for the region.  Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat who supports Cape Wind, wants Massachusetts to be a leader in creating alternative energy sources. This week, he set a goal of developing 2,000 megawatts of wind power capacity - enough to power 800,000 homes, Mr. Patrick said - by 2020. The state currently has only nine large wind turbines capable of producing 6.6 megawatts.

With Obama and Patrick pushing and Kennedy resisting, the result will be interesting.  The same divisions will be played out in other locations across the country, even as Obama and Congress push through funds to promote alternative energy.   And the "honeymoon" has not even begun.
Obama was in Ohio on Friday visiting a wind turbine parts factory, and promoting his plan for "green jobs."  Low oil prices, however, have resulted in a downturn for the wind industry. According to the New York Times

...some of those jobs in the wind industry are becoming casualties of the economic slump. North Dakota-based D.M.I. Industries, which manufactures turbine towers, is laying off 20 percent of its workers across three plants - in Tulsa, Okla.; Stevensville, Ontario; and West Fargo, N.D.  The news comes barely six months after the company announced expansion plans that would make it the "largest wind tower manufacturer in North America."  "Quite frankly, I was shocked," the mayor of West Fargo, Rich Mattern, told The Associated Press earlier this month. "I thought they were bulletproof. I never guessed that they would be in trouble."  L.M. Glasfiber, a Danish turbine company, also announced 150 layoffs last week at a blade-making plant in Arkansas. And Gamesa, a Spanish turbine maker, said it was initiating layoffs at an Eastern Pennsylvania factory - though it was expanding a factory in the western part of the state, which can make larger blades.

Also on Friday, the Minerals Management Service, part of the Department of the Interior, issued its environmental impact statement saying there was "no serious environmental threat."  The project, however, is right in Senator Kennedy's back yard, and as such has been fought by the senator for years.

Homeowners and boaters on the cape, including Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, have fought the project for eight years, saying it would hurt wildlife, fishing and tourism and spoil the beauty of Nantucket Sound.  Opponents have sued to stop the project, known as Cape Wind, and more challenges are certain, keeping the path to construction bumpy despite what supporters on Friday called a crucial victory.  The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, a group formed to fight the project, suggested that the Bush administration had unscrupulously rushed to approve it before President-elect Barack Obama takes office next week.

Of course, "aides to Mr. Kennedy made a point of saying Friday that an obstructed view was not among the senator's concerns."  There are several other hurdles before the project could go ahead, but the battle lines are being drawn:

Cape Wind supporters say the project would ultimately supply 75 percent of the electricity for Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. But others have cautioned that users' electricity rates will probably rise sharply. Representative Bill Delahunt, a Democrat from Cape Cod who is against the project, said in a statement that it could potentially double power costs for the region.  Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat who supports Cape Wind, wants Massachusetts to be a leader in creating alternative energy sources. This week, he set a goal of developing 2,000 megawatts of wind power capacity - enough to power 800,000 homes, Mr. Patrick said - by 2020. The state currently has only nine large wind turbines capable of producing 6.6 megawatts.

With Obama and Patrick pushing and Kennedy resisting, the result will be interesting.  The same divisions will be played out in other locations across the country, even as Obama and Congress push through funds to promote alternative energy.   And the "honeymoon" has not even begun.