tobacco solarOPINION:

After the “miraculous” engineering feat of placing three off shore wind power plants near Block Island, the first in the US, Providence based Deepwater Wind, won the power purchase rights to 600 megawatts of offshore power from Rhode Island [400mw] and Connecticut [200 KW].

What the company did have going for its 50 turbine Revolution Wind project, located half-way between Martha’s Vineyard and Block Island was backing by its owner, S.E. Shaw, a $51 billion global hedge fund.

Shaw’s money muscle and its lobbying power helped it beat out two more established local players' offshore projects by Avantgrid [United Illuminating parent] and Eversource.

In Connecticut’s case, Deepwater made some big promises to build manufacturing for the wind power industry, and the development of the New London Pier, including $15 million for Pier improvements.

While the company was pitching its concern at the pier for local communities and its good guy environmental “props,” just 63 miles away in the leafy and comfortable town of Simsbury, a whole different narrative was playing out.

Off-shore wind power was apparently not enough for the “hedgie” with a government guaranteed profit on the line. Deepwater proposed building 110,000 solar panels on 150 acres of farmland and forest, dubbed Tobacco Valley Solar Farm.

Guess what?

Not everyone in Simsbury is happy about a project that will industrialize open space, displace farmland and clear cut forest – even Connecticut energy officials were against the project.

One would think that should have been enough to nix the “farm.”

Connecticut, however, in service of the Climate Change Mafia, had already surrendered its energy sovereignty in a compact with Massachusetts and Rhode Island, to encourage “clean energy projects.” The town tried to put up a legal fight but, they were no match for the DeepPocketed hedge fund. Deepwater took their project to the Connecticut Siting Council which under the three-state environmental compact could override both the town and Connecticut’s own energy officials.

True to form, the Siting Council greenlighted the project.

In September, the town got Deepwater to slightly modify their plan, Simsbury surrendered with the town counsel admitting they couldn’t do any better.

The state’s environmental groups, that likely could have pushed Deepwater back into the Long Island Sound as the real money project was on the line, are and were largely silent. After all – nothing is more important to Connecticut’s environmental groups then the state surrendering its electorate to regional “clean energy advocates.”

And maybe that would be good, if the project actually was clean, but is it? The main goal of clean energy today is reducing the amount of C02 in the air. 

You’re a businessperson, do the math.

The 110,000 solar panels will produce 26,000 Kilowatts [26 Megawatts] per year. Solar panels in Connecticut will save from being produced by fossil fuel energy production, about 1.1 lbs. of CO2 per Kilowatt per year. That’s 13 tons of carbon per year saved by the  project.

Sounds Good.

Placing the panels on actual farmland not so easy peasy however, Connecticut makes taking over actual farming land for solar panels a little tougher than most states. No problem, Deepwater will clear cut 33 acres of forest habitat.

Those 33 acres currently are sequestering around 2,400 tons of carbon.

When all is said and done, forest destroyed, wood products created, firewood burnt, wood left to decay, whatever, approximately 2000 tons of carbon will be unleashed from the clear cut forest into the atmosphere. 

Apparently the folks on the Siting Council didn’t include any math majors, when they said there would be no negative environmental impact and certainly no tree-huggers, maybe the only number they saw was Shaw’s $51 billion.

But obliterating the forest habitat and letting the currently sequestered C02 return to the atmosphere, is just the first carbon “cost” of the project.

EVERY ACRE of Northeast forest, sequesters CO2 as it lives, breathes and grows – approximately 2-2.5 tons of carbon per acre, per year.

That’s right – the 33 acres of Northeast forest, will remove more than 50-70 tons of carbon per year from the atmosphere, that’s four times more carbon benefit to the environment than 110,000 solar panels converting sunlight into electricity in Connecticut.

As a bonus, every tree generates more than 250 lbs. of oxygen into the Farmington Valley air each year, equal to the amount 18 people use. Those 33 acres will create the oxygen needed by more than 400,000 people in greater Hartford.

It turns out that S.E Shaw has grown bored of the whole wind power thing and decided time was to return their money to port [Deepwater Wind - Purchased By Danish Wind Power Giant]. Without actually having accomplished very much besides three Windmills off Block Island and some power purchase agreements, Deepwater’s owners will see a $510 million payday. The world’s largest offshore wind power company, Olsted of Fredericka, Denmark. has offered to buy the company.

With the Deepwater purchase Olsted will have 8000 Megawatts on the US East Coast lined up for development over the next decade or so.

Where do the measly 26 megawatts of solar capacity and 33 acres of home for rabbits, birds, bears and hikers fit in?

We’re not quite sure but, the project has been removed from Deepwater’s website.

We expect the farm will be sold, so put your bid in – the States of Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island are GURARANTEEING you make a profit.

With a change in ownership of Deepwater and likely the Solar Farm, it is time for the State of Connecticut, its environmental community and perhaps three candidates for Governor to step up and put Simsbury, Connecticut, wildlife habitat and the climate over the needs of the new global industrial “environmental” companies.