Bird-loving mogul is a pain in the tail feathers
In the offshore wind world, it ain't over when it's supposedly over.
(A native of England, Matthew Diebel is a veteran journalist who has worked at NBC News, Time, USA Today and News Corp., among other organizations. Having spent his childhood next to one of the world's fastest bodies of water, he is particularly interested in tidal energy.)
Want to build a giant offshore wind project? Then beware solar panel moguls who are also lawyers and also happen to get personal enjoyment from migratory birds that fly around their fancy Martha’s Vineyard vacation home. Oh, and then there is the matter of the pleasure they find from trying to spot endangered North Atlantic Right Whales in the nearby Nantucket Sound.
Yup, fresh from his July 2021 lawsuit against the companies behind Vineyard Wind, which, after a 10-year battle, received permitting for a giant turbine array in May of that year, Thomas Melone, president of Allco Renewable Energy, recently amended his complaint about the Massachusetts project to include South Fork Wind, a smaller enterprise off the New York coastline.
Perhaps to his credit, however, Melone is not just playing the conservationist card. He also argues, reports Energy News Network, that what he says are unlawful approvals effectively reduce Allco’s business prospects due to a probable reduction in demand for his solar generation projects, which include thousands of panels in at least eight states. “Allco’s economic interests are part of the human environment affected by the defendants’ actions,” he wrote in the complaint.
True, maybe, but also eleventh-hour (and also ignoring the capitalistic notion of competition in business). As Avangrid Renewables (AGR) and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, the companies behind the Vineyard Wind project, noted in court filings that they have undergone a 10-year regulatory process and invested some $300 million in the project to date.
Will such lawsuits — there are at least four others pending — dull the push for American offshore-generated electricity? In what must be the world’s most litigious nations, it’s hard to believe otherwise.