Vineyard Wind is needed

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To the Editor:

This letter was originally sent to the Edgartown conservation commission.

I am writing in strong support for the Vineyard Wind undersea cable, to be located offshore of Edgartown.

As background, I was formerly a professor of mechanical engineering at Tufts University, and taught graduate climate and energy systems courses for five years. My career has included both engineering and executive positions in several high technology companies. I was an Edgartown taxpayer for 15 years, and now am a full-time resident of Chilmark. At present, I chair Chilmark’s energy committee, the Island-wide Vineyard Sustainable Energy Committee, and our town’s finance advisory committee. 

I am sure that at this point you have been apprised of the economic benefits associated with the Vineyard Wind project, including meaningful jobs and lower electricity prices for ratepayers. I am equally sure that you are aware of the extensive reviews of the cable project by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission and the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, as well as the care that has been taken by the developers to protect our coastal environment and sea life.

Instead of repeating the details of all these points, I would like to address the issue before the commission in its larger context.

From the New York Times, June 19: “Emissions need to be halved by 2030 to limit warming to 1.5° Celsius, but temperatures are on track to reach double that by the end of the century even if countries current plans are fully implemented, research by scientists shows … However, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions were at a record high last year, and renewable power capacity has stalled after years of strong growth.”

I would also point out that in 2018, several studies showed that the negative impacts we once thought would occur at 2oC should in fact be expected at 1.5oC. Anthropogenic climate change is underway, and has escalated from an “issue” to a full-scale emergency.

There are a number of vital activities underway on the Island focused on adaptation to the changes that are expected from climate change. These are locally critical to our future. Also, planning for a more sustainable, resilient, and carbon-free energy ecosystem has begun under the auspices of the MVC. One might imagine that all this is nice to do, but will not impact the larger climate crisis. 

However, I submit that if we keep Vineyard Wind on track, or don’t, it will have a significant regional, national, even global impact, given that Vineyard Wind is the first major offshore wind project in the Western Hemisphere. We have an opportunity — no, a responsibility for true leadership.

For the sake of our children and grandchildren and the conservation and preservation of our Island environment and all that is unique about our home, we must move forward with the Vineyard Wind project.

 

Robert Hannemann

Chilmark