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Cape Spin: An American Power Struggle

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by Marisa McNatt

About ten years ago, a New England energy company proposed building America’s first — and the world’s largest — offshore windfarm on Horseshoe Shoal, a federal body of water that’s part of the Nantucket Sound off the coast of Cape Cod, Mass. The documentary “Cape Spin” chronicles the struggle of those fighting for and against the project, aptly showing that renewable energy deployment is about far more than getting the engineering right.

The documentary begins with images of Cape Cod in the summertime: clear blue skies, sail boats, carousels, beach chairs, cocktails, people waving American flags, all set to patriotic music and the 1950s song “Old Cape Cod.” These images reveal how for some the windfarm, officially named Cape Wind, seems a gigantic change to their place of retreat. And, it’s not only those who wear Ralph Lauren polo shirts who are worried about the visual impact of the 130 wind turbines, each standing about 100 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty. Those who work on the island like a good view too, the film reveals.

The 86-minute long documentary also tells a story that goes much deeper than residents fighting to retain an aesthetically appealing and nostalgic landscape. It takes viewers to a place of ultimate confusion, documenting the opinions of politicians, political commentators, experts and members of Native American Tribes working to validate one side or the other. Fishermen are concerned that turbines will affect their livelihood. Some members of Native American Tribes believe the structures will interfere with their sunrise ceremonies. Even famed environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. joins then-Gov. Mitt Romney in opposition to the project. Members of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, the group that formed in 2001 in opposition to the windfarm, claim the turbines pose a threat to wildlife, air traffic control and boat navigation. Experts speaking on behalf of Clean Power Now, the nonprofit working for governmental approval of the project, say the turbines pose no such threats.

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