UPDATED: Palm Beach Billionaire Sailor Fights to Stop Wind Farm | The Daily Pulp | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida


UPDATED: Palm Beach Billionaire Sailor Fights to Stop Wind Farm

You'd think Bill Koch might be a fan of wind energy. The billionaire Palm Beach energy magnate made some of his fortune off eco-friendly geo-thermal and natural gas power plants. He's also an avid sailor who won the America's Cup in 1992.

But it appears that when he's on dry land, Koch's fondness for wind falters. For the past several years he's poured more than $1.5 million into blocking the construction of America's first offshore wind farm because, well, it will block his view.

See, Koch has a house in Osterville, Massachusetts with a view of Nantucket

Sound. And that's where a private energy developer wants to build 130 wind turbines. As Koch told Forbes magazine:

"I go out and sail on the Sound; it's so beautiful. Why would you want to sail in a forest of windmills?"

The fight between Cape Wind and the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound -- which Koch and his rich pals fund --  has dragged on for almost nine years and spawned a book and a documentary, as protesters have raised concerns about the farm's impact on birds, tourism, fisherman, even boat radar. 

In the latest twist, members of two Wampanoag Indian tribes are protesting the wind farm, saying it will disrupt ancient burial sites and block their views of the sun. It's an argument that raises some eyebrows, because the tribes admit they work closely with the Koch-funded Alliance.

Meanwhile, the project has won the backing of many people who normally can't stand each other, such as environmentalists and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The developer claims it will generate 75 percent of the electricity needed to power Cape Cod and nearby islands. Given the Obama administration's emphasis on green energy and jobs, it certainly sounds like a tempting idea.

So The Juice called Koch's media spokesman at the West Palm Beach headquarters of his company, the Oxbow Group, to find out what all his protesting is about.Could it perhaps have something to do with Oxbow's investments in coal and gas?

After two phone calls, the answer from Koch's spokesman was that the billionaire's "not around today."  If he does ever return the call, you'll read the update here.

UPDATE: Check out the response from Koch's spokesman here.

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Lisa Rab
Contact: Lisa Rab

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