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Windfall: The Birth of a New American Industry

Sara Plourde

The United States is poised for the birth of a brand new industry, one that will invest tens of billions of dollars in our economy, reshape our coastal communities, and one that could be one of the sharpest knives in our fight against climate change: offshore wind.

Windfall is a special series from Outside/In. This is the first of a three-part series airing on NHPR. Part 2 airs next Saturday, July 10th, at 11 am.

A note about our reporting

Part 1: Sea Change

Credit Sara Plourde
The federal government has sold 16 lease areas to wind developers off the east coast, but so far, only 11 projects have landed contracts to sell their electricity to coastal states.

Listen at

Picture this: thousands of wind turbines off the Atlantic coast, each one taller than the Washington Monument. Offshore wind is seen as an essential solution to climate change, and it’s poised for explosive growth in the United States. How did we get to a moment of such dramatic change? 

Wondering how a wind turbine works? Check out this video.

Part 2: Please Let Me Finish, Mr. Kennedy

Listen at

Ten years ago, a Kennedy and a Koch shared the same goal: stop Cape Wind, America’s would-be first offshore wind farm.

Credit Peter Bowden
A pro-Cape Wind rally in Boston in 2015.

Despite nearly two decades of effort, Cape Wind was never built, and its failure had huge consequences for the offshore wind industry. But it also laid the groundwork for the next wave of offshore wind and the explosive growth to come.

A pro-Cape Wind PSA (from Greenpeace) circa 2007

Credit Sara Plourde
Because they don’t need to be transported on trucks or highways, offshore wind turbines are much bigger and more powerful than their onshore siblings.


Windfall is a special series from Outside/In, and is also available on-demand as a podcast. To listen, visit the series website: You can also search for Outside/In on any podcast app, including Spotify, Apple podcasts, Stitcher, and more.

Cohosted by Sam Evans-Brown and Annie Ropeik
Written by Sam Evans-Brown and Jack Rodolico
Mixed by Taylor Quimby
Fact-checked by Sara Sneath. 
Edited by Erika Janik, Annie Ropeik, Justine Paradis, Taylor Quimby, Felix Poon and Hannah McCarthy
Adapted for broadcast by Justine Paradis and Taylor Quimby
Executive Producer: Erika Janik
Graphics: Sara Plourde
Music: Blue Dot Sessions, Ben Cosgrove, and Breakmaster Cylinder

Special thanks to Beth Daley, who’s now editor-in-chief of The Conversation; to Sean Corcoran, who shared tons of audio with us from his years of reporting; and to Sarah Mizes-Tan and WCAI for the audio of the Block Island Wind Farm Tour. Also thanks to Bettina Washington, Richard Andre, Vincent Schellings, Walter Musial, Michael Taylor and Dan Shreve.

Outside/In is a show where curiosity and the natural world collide. Click here for podcast episodes and more.
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