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Feb 19, 2006

Distorted Map & Other Dirty Tricks Cost $15,000

The company that has proposed building an offshore wind farm in Nantucket Sound announced this week that it had reached a settlement of its defamation lawsuit against one of its biggest critics. Cape Wind has agreed to accept a $15,000 settlement from John Donelan for fraudulent acts he committed against the company.

The lawsuit centered on actions Mr. Donelan took while Technical and Research Director of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, a group opposed to wind farm. The suit alleged that Mr. Donelan engaged in a number of "dirty tricks" including:
  • Distributing 100,000 fliers of a distorted map that tripled the actual size of the wind farm.
  • Using a faulty "viewshed map"” that greatly exaggerated how many areas of the Cape and Islands would be able to see the wind farm.
  • Sending out a false press release that was made to appear to be from a local company "“announcing"” it would not do business with Cape Wind.
  • Using distorted images of what the wind farm would look like from land on the group's website.
During his deposition for the lawsuit, Mr. Donelan refused to answer over 400 questions, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. So in November of 2005, the judge in the case issued an order stating that it was deemed established that "“Donelan published a defamatory statement about Cape Wind."

The wind farm has been opposed by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and other celebrities who own vacation homes on the sound. Cape Wind says that it will donate the $15,000 settlement to Project Prevention, a program that provides assistance to low-income families having difficulty paying rent and energy bills.