Taxpayers should fear Cape Wind project

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George Landrith
President, Frontiers of Freedom
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      George Landrith

      Since 1999, George Landrith has served as the President of the Frontiers of Freedom Institute – a pubic policy think tank devoted to promoting a strong national defense, free markets, individual liberty, and constitutionally limited government. The Institute maintains offices in Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Wyoming and has thousands of grassroots supporters in virtually every state. The Institute is recognized as a national leader on the most important issues facing America today, including: national security, market-based environmental solutions, energy, property rights, taxes and regulation.

      Previously, he served as the Vice President and General Counsel to the National Legal Center for the Public Interest.

      Mr. Landrith is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, where he was Business Editor of the Virginia Journal of Law and Politics. He also graduated, magna cum laude, from Brigham Young University studying political science and economics.

      Mr. Landrith is admitted to the bar in Virginia and California and is a member of the United States Supreme Court bar.

      In 1994 and 1996, Mr. Landrith was a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia's Fifth Congressional District. He served on the Albemarle County School Board. He was appointed by then Governor George Allen and confirmed by the General Assembly to serve on the Virginia Workforce 2000 Advocacy Council. Mr. Landrith is an adjunct professor at the George Mason School of Law.

      Mr. Landrith has appeared frequently on television and radio news programs and his work has been printed in over 100 newspapers across the nation, including: Washington Times, Chicago Tribune, LA Daily News, National Review, Sacramento Bee, Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Providence Journal, and Human Events. He has been quoted in many of the nation’s leading papers, including: New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post.

      Mr. Landrith lives in Virginia with his wife, Laura, and their seven children.

Lurking off the coast of Massachusetts like a shark out of a Steven Spielberg movie is a green energy project that is being rushed through the permitting process to meet statutory deadlines. If it goes under, it could end up costing U.S. taxpayers millions.

For almost two decades, efforts have been underway to build a wind farm on Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound, off the coast of Cape Cod. For almost as long, the effort has been opposed by local residents worried about the project’s cost and potential impact on the environment.

It’s not a small venture. The project would consist of 130 wind turbines, each 440 feet tall. It’s expected to cost $2.6 billion to build.

If this sounds like a lot of time and effort and expense to produce — at 23 cents per kilowatt hour — some of the most expensive electricity in the U.S., it is. The roughly 450 megawatts of power Cape Wind is expected to generate would be, according to estimates from different business groups in the state, as much as two to three times as expensive as the energy generated by conventional means.

This is probably why the backers of Cape Wind have had to look for financing outside the United States to raise the capital they need to complete the project. They have entered into an agreement with the Bank of Tokyo–Mitsubishi UFJ, which will act as “coordinating lead arranger” for the commercial portion of the project’s debt — financing that is yet to be arranged. But according to published reports, the Japanese firm won’t go forward until and unless the U.S. Department of Energy agrees to guarantee the loan.

The DOE has already turned down the Cape Wind project once. But Obama’s Department of Energy has a history of guaranteeing loans for politically well-connected green energy companies — think Solyndra — and the Massachusetts congressional delegation, led by Rep. Bill Keating, is ratcheting up the pressure on DOE to approve the loan guarantee before the expiration of the program under which the loan guarantee could be made. Don’t be surprised if the project eventually gets the go-ahead. If it does, there’s a good chance it will fail miserably, leaving you and me holding the bag.

It’s especially curious that Cape Wind’s backers are pressuring the administration to approve the loan guarantee now considering that the project’s very future remains in doubt. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia recently found that the Federal Aviation Administration failed to adequately review the potential hazard the “Cuisinart blades in the sky” might pose to commercial and civil aviation. If the FAA rules the turbines are a hazard, or if the courts do, the U.S. Department of the Interior will likely modify or revoke Cape Wind’s lease.

Rather than rush through approval of the project and the loan guarantee for Bank of Tokyo–Mitsubishi UFJ, it may be time to pull the plug. The red flags are already flying high and mighty on Cape Wind. It would be a mistake for the federal government to further commit taxpayers to a project that may turn out, like Solyndra, to just be so much hot air.

George Landrith is the president of Frontiers of Freedom, an organization founded by the late U.S. Sen. Malcolm Wallop, R-Wyo, and a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, where he was Business Editor of the Virginia Journal of Law and Politics.