As the temperature in Boston soared to 95 degrees on Tuesday afternoon and New England reached its peak electricity demand thus far this year, the proposed offshore wind farm, Cape Wind, would have supplied 300 megawatts of electricity during that crucial hour, according to data collected at Cape Wind’s Scientific Data Tower in Nantucket Sound.
While Tuesday's peak electric demand was the highest for 2009, it still fell well short of New England’s all time peak electric demand which occurred on August 2, 2006, a day that Cape Wind would have produced 339 megawatts during the hour of maximum demand.
Last year, Cape Wind published a report (pdf) showing that the sea breeze effect was largely responsible for strong offshore winds in Nantucket Sound during hot summer afternoons which coincide with the times that electric demand is at its highest. The 2007 report found that Cape Wind would have produced an average of 321 megawatts per hour when electric demand was at its peak hour during each of the past ten record-setting electric demand days as recorded at that time by the the region’s electric grid manager (current conditions at Cape Wind site on Horseshoe Shoals).
“The abundance of the offshore wind resource in reasonable proximity to the areas of greatest population density and electric demand combined with the strong performance of that clean energy resource during times of greatest system need underscores the value of building projects like Cape Wind,” said Cape Wind President Jim Gordon in a statement.
And lest you think that Cape Wind would only be matching peak demand in the summer months, previously, the US Department of Energy reported that Cape Wind would have been at full production during almost the entire 3-day sub-zero cold snap in January, 2004 when electric grid managers considered instituting rolling blackouts because of a shortage of natural gas available for electrical generation.
With President Obama arriving on Sunday for a week-long vacation on the island of Martha's Vineyard—just a handful of miles away from the site of the proposed wind farm on Horseshoe Shoals—local activists are hammering at the significance of the long-delayed offshore wind project and preparing their grassroots supporters for possible run-ins with the president.
"We are hoping for him to speak out about this issue specifically because of the national significance of this," said Barbara Hill, executive director of Clean Power Now. The project "could literally jump-start a new industry in this country. Once we get the first one out there, it's going to open up the gates," Hill added.
"I would love to be able to sit down with him for five minutes and say, 'President Obama, what you're hearing are proposals that are 10 years away,'" Hill said, and "'nothing will be built in your first administration'" if Cape Wind were to fail.
Image via Wikimedia Commons