Joseph Kennedy

Candidate for U.S. Congress in the Fourth District Joe Kennedy III at the 15th annual Southeastern Massachusetts Democratic Spring Unity Brunch put on by the Attleboro Democratic City Committee in March. (Staff photo by Mark Stockwell)

Congressional candidate Joseph Kennedy III broke with his family elders Thursday and endorsed the Cape Wind energy project many of his relatives oppose.

Kennedy said he has not taken a position on the project until now because he wanted to study the details. He said he has found it to be a good way to increase the state’s supply of alternative energy and reduce reliance on foreign oil.

The Cape Wind project would double the amount of alternative energy produced in Massachusetts and create good-paying jobs, he said.

“Off shore wind is one of the resources Massachusetts is blessed with,” he said in an interview at The Sun Chronicle.

The project involves erecting 130 wind turbines about five miles off shore. The tip of the blades of the turbines would extend 440 feet.

Although the project has received the approval of federal and state agencies, it is opposed by many on the Cape, including members of Kennedy’s family.

Complaints include the high cost of the energy the turbines would produce and the possibility they could spoil the beauty of the region.

The late Sen. Edward Kennedy — the candidate’s great uncle — was an outspoken opponent, as is Robert Kennedy Jr., Joseph Kennedy’s uncle.

The younger Kennedy, a candidate in the 4th Congressional District, said wind has to be a component of an overall energy strategy that includes the development of alternative and traditional energy sources, as well as conservation.

“We need to put in place a robust energy plan that brings costs down,” he said.

Congress, he said, could help by renewing or making permanent tax credits for wind and other alternative sources so developers have the certainty about costs that they need to expand.

Kennedy released a energy policy statement that outlined his plans for energy.

In addition to further development of wind, solar and other forms of alternative energy, Kennedy is urging a concentration on conservation by making homes, appliances, motor vehicles and businesses more energy efficient.

Buildings can be made 40 percent more energy efficient through better insulation, changing to more efficient light bulbs, installing new windows and switching to better appliances, he said.

“The cheapest energy is the energy we never use,” his position paper states.

Kennedy also said he supports the Obama administration’s plan to require cars to average 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016 and 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

He said when the so-called “CAFE” standards were increased in the 1970s the import of foreign oil dropped significantly.

There will always be a need for fossil fuel, he said, but it must be used cleanly, efficiently and responsibly.

“Energy in the United States can be cleaner, cheaper and domestically produced, but only if we are willing to make hard choices, to make significant investments in new energy technologies and industries and to enact smart policies that harness market forces and American ingenuity on both sides of the meter and the pump,” he said.

Kennedy is in a three-way Democrat primary in the race to replace the retiring U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Newton.

One of Kennedy’s Democratic opponents, Herb Robinson, said he supports Cape Wind, while the other, Rachel Brown, strongly opposes it.

“An energy policy that relies on low energy-dense modes of generation, like wind and solar and the like, is utterly incompetent and unscientific,” she said.

“My energy proposals would rely on the highest and most energy-dense mode that we know of, nuclear fission.”

Robinson said his criteria for supporting wind projects is that they can withstand extreme weather and that they do not bother residents with noise pollution. He said Cape Wind meets both standards, so he is backing it.

The primary is Sept. 6.

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