Editorial: Don't blow this opportunity in Quincy

The Patriot Ledger

It's hard to quantify but it's a good guess that wind as a resource is much easier, cleaner and far less expensive to harness than nuclear energy or fossil fuels.

Why, then, is there such an overreaction and shrill calls for unnecessary studies when anyone proposes to build turbines to utilize the power of this naturally occurring and renewable source?

The latest is the official foot-dragging in the wake of contractor Jay Cashman's plan to erect a turbine on his land at Fore River Shipyard and sell the energy to other shipyard tenants as well as capture it to power a proposed turbine manufacturing firm.

Clean, cheap energy and new job creation. What are we missing here that makes this a plan so difficult to embrace?

Quincy City Councilor Daniel Raymondi caught wind of Cashman's plan and, with no current bylaws governing wind power in the city, introduced a measure to regulate turbines that generate more than 60 kilowatts per hour, or large enough to power a good-sized house or two with sustained winds of about 10 mph.

Cashman is proposing a 1,500-kilowatt turbine, which would be more than enough to power all the businesses in the shipyard as well as store power for times when the wind doesn't blow.

Cashman, who also has a proposed wind farm for Buzzards Bay that's being slow-tracked, says Raymondi's plan is a good start and said he supports it as a way to modernize the zoning regulations because "the technology is obviously knocking on Quincy's door."

But it's more than knocking; it's sitting in the living room drinking coffee with its feet up on the couch.

All one has to do is look down the harbor at Hull, where two turbines that generate 10 percent of the town's energy needs are such a success, plans are underway to construct four more offshore that, combined with the current pair of turbines, would provide all of Hull's power needs.

In Plymouth, Sheriff Joseph D. McDonald Jr. has erected a wind-monitoring tower in a forward-looking plan to use wind to help power the county jail and reduce the annual $1 million energy bill.

More than a dozen other South Shore communities, including Braintree, Cohasset, Hanover, Kingston, Marshfield, Milton, Norwell, Pembroke, Plymouth, Scituate, Quincy and Weymouth, are exploring the use of wind energy.

Harnessing wind as an energy source has been around for centuries, so there's not a lot we don't know about it, other than predicting when and how the wind will blow.

The biggest impediment, then, appears to be abutters who are concerned about aesthetics. All one has to do is look over the bridge at the fight over Cape Wind.

Oil this week topped $80 a barrel and experts predict will cross the $100 threshold sooner rather than later. No one knows how much longer our aging nuclear power plants, such as Pilgrim, can run efficiently and the spent fuel rods are going to have be stored somewhere. Our dependency on foreign oil continues and our use is continuing to grow, not lessen.

We don't need endless studies and more hearings to determine the efficacy and common sense of erecting wind turbines. We need political courage to say our future is too important to let these opportunities blow by.