State OKs Nstar's power purchase contract with Cape Wind [Boston Herald]By Marie Szaniszlo, Boston HeraldMcClatchy-Tribune Information Services
Nov. 26--The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities today approved Nstar's power purchase agreement with the company at the heart of a controversial plan to generate renewable energy by erecting wind turbines on Nantucket Sound.
"This decision helps secure the position of Massachusetts as the U.S. leader in offshore wind power, launching a new industry that will create jobs, increase energy independence and promote a cleaner and healthier environment," Cape Wind President Jim Gordon said in a statement. "With this decision, Massachusetts electric consumers have secured an abundant, inexhaustible, and clean energy resource that provides price stability and avoids all of the external costs of fossil fuels. Finally, our region will no longer be at the end of the energy pipeline, by harnessing an endless supply of offshore wind power, we will be producing homegrown and clean energy right here."
In making its decision, the DPU cited the project's environmental and economic benefits for the state, as it did when it approved the National Grid power purchase agreement in 2010. These benefits include emissions reductions that will help the state meet its greenhouse gas reduction requirements, increased fuel diversity, reductions in the wholesale price of electricity and a hedge against volatile fossil fuel prices, said Sue Reid, vice president and director of the Conservation Law Foundation Massachusetts.
With more than 75 percent of its power sold through approved long-term contracts and all of its necessary state and federal permits in hand, Cape Wind can proceed toward its goal of beginning construction in 2013, Reid said.
Opponents of the $2.5 billion plan, which calls for 130 wind turbines on 25 miles of Nantucket Sound, noted that five federal lawsuits against the project, as well as a congressional investigation into whether the Federal Aviation Administration caved to political pressure to approve it, are still active.
"While the decision comes as no surprise, it is alarming that the state is willing to burden Massachusetts businesses and households with billions of dollars in added utility costs for this expensive and controversial project," Audra Parker, president of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, said in a statement. "Fortunately for Massachusetts ratepayers, Cape Wind faces an uphill battle with five lawsuits in federal court and will never be built."
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