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Windfall: NHPR Podcast Takes In-Depth Look at Costs, Controversies of Renewable Energy Source

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Sara Plourde for NHPR
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CONCORD, NH – Beginning Thursday, June 24, New Hampshire Public Radio launches Windfall – an in-depth, multi-part special series from NHPR’s award-winning podcast Outside/In. Windfall explores the rise of a brand new American industry: the generation of electricity from wind off the East Coast.

Scroll to the bottom of this post to find out how to listen to the Windfall series.

After 20 years of political tussles and what some see as bureaucratic red tape, the U.S. is now moving full speed ahead on offshore wind energy. In March 2021, President Biden announced plans to install 30,000 megawatts worth of wind power off the East Coast by 2030. For comparison, that equals as much offshore wind as Europe and China combined have installed over the past 20 years.

Shortly after, on May 11, the Biden-Harris administration announced its approval of the construction and operation of the Vineyard Wind project, the first major offshore wind project in U.S. waters.

Data shows the impact of wind energy on our economy and communities could be significant:  tens of thousands of green jobs, tens of billions of dollars injected into the economy, and 2,000 turbines (each taller than the Washington Monument) that will eventually dot the coastline along the Atlantic Ocean.

The shift toward wind energy also represents the first time truly massive companies have trained their sights on the issue of climate change: a point that raises questions about how capitalism could be both the cause and the best path out of the worst impacts of climate change. Windfall will look at how the wind-generated energy debate unfolded in Massachusetts, a state long known for its strict regulations.

During the course of three years of reporting, the team looked at the policy and public debates around Vineyard Wind, the company behind a massive offshore wind farm project off Martha’s Vineyard. The Outside/In team delved into the varied reasons behind the failure of previous wind projects; the changing economics and promise of wind power; and opposition to the project, most recently from fishermen. The series also looks at how the wind energy debate played out differently in Europe’s North Sea, one of the most productive fisheries in the world.

“This is the story of a promising green energy technology and the potential of wind power in a changing climate,” said Erika Janik, executive producer of the Outside/In podcast and of Windfall. “It asks why we don’t already have offshore wind when it’s an established industry elsewhere in the world. Windfall is a story at the intersection of themes that continue to be in the news:  climate change, infrastructure, and politics.”

The podcast tells the story through five episodes:

June 24, Episode 1: Sea Change

Picture this: 2,000 wind turbines off the Atlantic coast, each one taller than the Washington Monument. Offshore wind is poised for explosive growth on the East Coast. How did we get to a moment of such dramatic change?

July 1, Episode 2: Cape Wind: Please let me finish, Mr. Kennedy

That time a liberal and a conservative – both icons - Ted Kennedy and William Koch - shared the same goal: stop America’s first offshore wind farm. Twenty years on, we look back to the moment when the U.S. could have led the way into a green energy future - and we learn how the failure of Cape Wind paved the explosive growth that is to come.

July 8, Episode 3: Squid Pro Quo

The third episode in the series walks us through the most recent tumult of the Trump-Biden transition and the last gasps of obstruction that the industry had to overcome. It shows how the fights of the past set up today’s conflicts with the fishing industry, and how the wind industry has accumulated the political power it needs to prevail in that conflict.

July 15, Episode 4: Knee Deep in Turbines

The coming wind boom has kicked off a race: port cities up and down the East Coast are vying to host the tens of thousands of good-paying union jobs that the offshore wind industry is forecast to bring. But there aren’t enough jobs to revitalize every city that wants them, and they will go to the places that move first.

July 22, Episode 5: The Now

The very nature of the offshore wind industry means that it requires incredible sums of money, which can only be accessed by some of the world’s biggest companies: major oil producers. But is the environmental movement ready to welcome such devoted capitalists into its ranks? How will the offshore wind industry reshape the contours of the climate movement?

“Telling the most vital stories in depth by merging original reporting and insight with elegant, engaging audio production is the hallmark of NHPR’s podcasts,” said Jim Schachter, President and CEO. “With Windfall, the Outside/In team has produced a timely and urgent series in our own backyard as America seeks to reclaim global leadership on climate issues. And they’ve demonstrated New Hampshire Public Radio’s commitment to being a local, regional and national leader in environmental journalism.” 

Outside/In is NHPR’s award-winning podcast about the natural world and how we use it. Windfall continues a tradition of in-depth, nuanced storytelling around energy issues. In 2018, the Outside/In team won a prestigious Overseas Press Club Award for environmental reporting around its Powerline podcast. The podcast told the story of Hydro-Quebec, the world’s fourth-largest hydropower producer, and its impact on New England energy sources. Much like Windfall, the four-part series also delved into the environmental benefits and human costs of clean energy and corporate power dynamics.

HOW TO LISTEN TO WINDFALL:

On Podcast Platforms

Subscribe:

Listeners can hear the series by subscribing to Outside/In on Apple PodcastsStitcherSpotify, or wherever they access podcasts. The first episode will be released on Thursday, June 24 across all platforms.

On Broadcast

As part of NHPR’s Summer Podcast Showcase, tune in to NHPR for three consecutive Saturday airings of the podcast, specially produced for radio listening: July 3, July 10 and July 17, from 11 a.m. to noon.

Additionally, listeners can tune-in for an encore series of broadcasts on Fridays: July 9 (episode 1), July 16 (episode 2) and July 23 (episode 3), from 3 to 4 p.m.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: The series will also be featured by our public media partner, American Public Media (APM), in a form of a one-hour documentary and become available for broadcast by other public radio stations across the country.

LEARN MORE:

Website:  www.windfallpodcast.org

Social Media: Twitter - @OutsideInRadio

Tricia directs external communications, marketing and engagement efforts for New Hampshire Public Radio, working to raise further awareness of the high-quality journalism at NHPR and the organization’s deep community outreach.
Aytaj Ismayilova is NHPR’s digital membership associate. She worked as a marketing intern for CatchFire creative agency and as a public relations intern for a local Concord communications agency Louis Karno & Co Communication.

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