Skip to main content

The Mast-Head: Buried and Forgotten

Thu, 03/21/2024 - 09:08

"Wind power makes good people go crazy," I told the man at the other end of the phone line. He did not appreciate my observation one bit.

The conversation was about five years ago, when the going got weird over the installation of a thick, underground electric cable in Wainscott. The cable, now completed, buried, and forgotten, was to connect a set of 12 wind power turbines — about 30 miles out in the ocean south of Rhode Island — to the electric grid. I can't remember the guy's name at this point, but I recall that he had a house somewhere in Wainscott, probably along Beach Lane, where the cable was to go. 

Peak outrage at the cable plan circa 2019 among some Wainscott property owners might have been understandable if a subway line were going in, or a six-lane highway. None of the opponents' arguments made sense to me. And, if there were issues, they would be outweighed by the benefits of a switch to wind and other renewable resources. 

Wind power has its problems, just like every other kind of electrical generation. Compared to everything other than nuclear, wind has the lowest greenhouse gas emissions.

"Nearly all combustion byproducts have negative effects on the environment and human health," the Energy Information Administration says. The worst offenders, coal, oil, and natural gas, are the overwhelming contributors to global climate change. Coal, oil, and gas cause more than 75 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 90 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions. Who stands to lose, if more wind power is added to the grid? Coal, oil, and gas producers, that's who. And it's big, big money. By industry estimates, Texas gets $454 billion in economic activity from fossil fuel each year — more than twice the state budget. 

But back to Wainscott: It was difficult for me not to suspect that some of the blowback was from witting and unwitting shills for the traditional power producers and the coal, oil, and gas industries. Deepening my suspicion was the involvement of a well-connected public relations firm with ties to Albany as well as Trump World.

South Fork Wind went fully operational last week. But bitter legal fights remain over ocean-based turbines, on Martha's Vineyard for one. Opponents of wind systems might want to take a look at Beach Lane, which has returned to normal and is as calm and quiet as ever.

Your support for The East Hampton Star helps us deliver the news, arts, and community information you need. Whether you are an online subscriber, get the paper in the mail, delivered to your door in Manhattan, or are just passing through, every reader counts. We value you for being part of The Star family.

Your subscription to The Star does more than get you great arts, news, sports, and outdoors stories. It makes everything we do possible.