April Infrastructure: Wind Energy and the Fix Coalition

At the April meeting, the Infrastructure Committee discussed taking a position on the wind projects, and the possibility of joining the Fix Coalition.

Wind Energy
The Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce has made a statement in favor of all three wind projects. The Infrastructure Committee does not feel we need to speak to all projects since we’ve only been approached by one, but does not rule it out should others come forward with presentations.

The Committee feels we should support alternative energy and wind power. To the degree of our understanding, Vineyard Wind has addressed environmental concerns. Based on Vineyard Wind’s presentation to the committee, we believe they have learned from the previous attempt at wind energy, and have been able to mitigate previous issues.

The Committee discussed writing a letter that supports the concept and the project in general terms. It is not an endorsement of a specific plan, but the committee believes that support would be helpful as projects move through the approval process. Letters of support from other organizations and representatives were circulated to the committee prior to the April meeting as examples.

A motion to propose a letter of support to the Executive Board for wind projects passed unanimously.

The Bridge Fix Coalition
The Tech Council has been invited to join a coalition to get support for an option to replace the bridges, called Option 3A (named for the exit, not the route). The Chamber’s Executive Director, Wendy Northcross, is encouraging people who are impacted daily to participate in the Fix Coalition so they can speak to their representatives as one voice. The goal is for someone with political pull to champion it.

As we’ve discussed at previous Infrastructure meetings, the bridges are 30 years past their expected lifespan. We have back-ups extending for miles, delaying travel for hours during the repair – so we can well imagine what would happen in the event of a bridge failure. The Committee feels that this is the time to make a plan, while we’re feeling the impact of failing bridges.

The Infrastructure Committee has been invited to discuss the issues surrounding the bridge closure – a discussion which has evolved into a push to replace the bridges and fix traffic flow. There is a study group looking at the bridges, but (like traffic at the bridge) it’s moving at a snail’s pace.

The consensus is to recommend to the Executive Committee that we join the Fix Coalition. The committee also sees a need to discuss the technology we can bring to the conversation, and broader implications for transportation that we can approach. Replacing the bridges alone won’t fix problems of traffic flow, but there are solutions out there.

Some of the ideas discussed were:

  • Sensing technology, including plate reading to establish percentage of visitors vs. residents using the bridge. If there is going to be a toll, is there could be a discount for residents or working commuters.
  • A self driving vehicle pilot program. Solar and self driving vehicles would move people and things more efficiently once they get here.
  • Combining different projects so they work as a system. For instance, could batteries that are part of the wind project be used to power autonomous vehicles.
  • Removing the necessity for going on and off Cape Cod by making telecommuting more feasible.

We noted that the Cape is a perfect test bed for new technologies. We have people with expertise, affiliated with the CCTC, that can use that expertise to shape public opinion with education. There’s also an opportunity for the CCTC to push for growth and innovation, and foster an active V.C. community. By doing things differently, we can create opportunity, jobs, and economic growth.

The Fix Coalition started a change.org petition, which has 2500 signatures at the time of the meeting.

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