The buzz on Cape Cod is grim as summer approaches. There is little talk about beach permits or Kennedy sightings and much talk about dead birds littering beaches, jellyfish clogging waterways and tourism collapsing. Even Walter Cronkite, America's éminence grise, has issued a dire warning from his second home on Martha's Vineyard. ''I'm very concerned about a private developer's plan to build an industrial energy complex across 24 square miles of publicly owned land,'' Cronkite intoned in a radio and television ad recently broadcast across the Cape.
The industrial energy complex in question is a wind farm. And the publicly owned land is really water -- Nantucket Sound, which separates the Cape from Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. That is where a Boston-based company called Cape Wind Associates hopes to build America's first offshore wind farm. At a cost in excess of $700 million, Cape Wind plans to spread 130 windmills, spaced a third to a half of a mile apart, across a shoal less than seven miles off the coast of Hyannis.