In response to government efforts to promote renewable energy development, Cape Wind Associates proposed the first offshore wind farm in the United States. The plan has been met with both vehement opposition and ardent support. In response to an increasingly unproductive debate over the project, the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MTC), a quasi-state agency, held a series of stakeholder meetings to establish a shared framework for analyzing the proposed wind farm. Through a facilitated process, stakeholders established rules and agendas for the six resulting meetings, which included presentations, discussions, and questions and answer sessions. The MTC compiled a wealth of materials generated by these meetings and made the results widely available both online and on compact disc. Most participants in the stakeholder sessions found substantial value in the opportunity for information exchange in a neutral setting. The MTC concluded that unbiased, reliable information is a powerful tool in fostering acceptance of new renewable energy technologies; however, in the case of offshore wind development, aesthetic concerns and the absence of an established regulatory framework for ocean-based renewable energy projects remain significant obstacles.
Greg Watson & Fara Courtney,
Nantucket Sound Offshore Wind Stakeholder Process,
B.C. Envtl. Aff. L. Rev.