RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
Tourists provide Cape Cod, Massachusetts, with a lot of revenue. But many Cape Codders are hoping the wind energy industry will expand the region's economy and keep young people from moving away. A proposal to build a large wind farm in the waters off Cape Cod is in regulatory limbo.
However, controversy surrounding that project and rising utility costs has sparked an interest in smaller turbines. Sean Corcoran of member station WCAI reports.
SEAN CORCORAN: The 83-foot wind turbine at Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School in Bourne, Massachusetts, has become something of an attraction since students helped install it this past summer. In fact, the superintendent is even thinking about building a kiosk next to it - a place to keep informational fliers for the steady stream of curious cranberry farmers, business owners and just the regular old Cape Codders who stop by to see if maybe they, too, should get a wind turbine.
Electrical instructor Mark Currier says the Cape's tech students are gearing up to meet the demand.
Mr. MARK CURRIER (Electrical Instructor, Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School): When they go out into the electrical industry, they will probably be the only people working for that company with any exposure to this technology.
CORCORAN: The controversial proposal to erect 130 wind turbines in Nantucket Sound has generated a growing interest in smaller, land-based turbines. At least a half dozen Cape towns are considering wind proposals, while in the village of Hyannis, a Jewish congregation is seeking approval for a turbine-added synagogue.
Dan Dray is the administrator of the Cape Cod Economic Development Council. He says wind energy could allow Cape Cod to reduce its economic dependency on tourism.
Mr. DAN DRAY (Administrator, Cape Cod Economic Development Council): Whether the wind farm goes forward or not, I think it's generated visibility around the renewable energy issue. I think we have an opportunity - because of our uniqueness as a region - to take advantage of these technologies and to create new businesses based on a new customer base that wants to utilize these types of technologies in their homes and businesses.
CORCORAN: James Lyons, chief engineer at GE Global Research, says the Cape has the right idea by training its next generation of tradespeople in wind-powered technology. About 3,000 turbines are expected to be installed across the United States this year alone. And Lyons says the U.S. is working on a plan to get 20 percent of its energy supply from wind in the next two decades.
Mr. JAMES LYONS (Chief Engineer, GE Global Research): I would say that there's really very little academic support, educational support for wind as it (unintelligible) today, and certainly not as we create the need for service technicians around the country.
CORCORAN: Seventeen-year-old Ryan Martino(ph) wants to be a master electrician one day. He helped install Upper Cape Cod Tech's turbine this past summer.
Mr. RYAN MARTINO (Electrician): As time goes on, we're all starting to understand it more. And it's going to become a big part of us as electricians to make those systems in houses, since the price of electricity has gone through the roof - especially on Cape Cod. We definitely must find alternate electrical systems for houses.
CORCORAN: A lot of people Ryan's age are leaving Cape Cod because there are few industries that pay enough to buy a home and raise a family here. This past summer, Upper Cape Cod Tech turned away as many applicants as it accepted in its freshman class. School officials say students understand that the trades offer some of the best opportunities to make it on Cape Cod.
By having an electrical curriculum that stresses alternative energies, they say the chance that alumni will be able to stay in the area only improves.
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CORCORAN: From NPR News, I'm Sean Corcoran on Cape Cod.
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MONTAGNE: This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
JOHN YDSTIE, host:
And I'm John Ydstie.
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