Thursday, December 29, 2011

The SJC's Cape Wind Decision

Late last year the Patrick Administration's Department of Public Utilities determined that a power purchase deal between National Grid and Cape Wind was reasonable and in the "public interest," despite a price tag that will force National Grid rate payers to shell out hundreds of millions of dollars above what they would otherwise pay for electricity.

Anti- Cape Wind groups including the Associated Industries of Massachusetts and the New England Power Generators Association brought suit challenging the determination.  Earlier this week the Supreme Judicial Court upheld the DPU's determination.

Cape Wind's developers are hailing the ruling as a major victory in their long slog to construction.  In truth, however, the court's decision is entirely unremarkable.  In finding that "there was clearly sufficient evidence on which the department could base its conclusion that the special benefits of (the Cape Wind power deal) exceeded those of other renewable energy resources," all the court did was confirm that the Department correctly followed its procedures and arrived at a subjective decision that is within its broad statutory authority to regulate energy rates in the Commonwealth.

What is remarkable about all of this is the same thing that has always been remarkable about it: our state government is forcing consumers (us) to pay a huge premium on the cost of our energy - already among the highest costs in the nation, by the way - to buoy a project that is politically popular on the left, but increasingly untenable without government support.

Listen to Richard Sullivan, Governor Patrick's Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs.  The DPU ruling upheld by the Court, he said, “assured that ratepayers could get renewable power at a fair price.”  The unspoken addendum to that statement?  "... a fair price hundreds of millions more expensive than energy from other available sources, including renewable sources."

Read carefully, and buried in the news of the SJC's pro-Cape Wind decision you will also learn that developers have pushed back construction by another year, to 2013.  Why?  Because more than a year after National Grid agreed to buy half of the project's power output, developers have been unable to find a buyer for the other half.

And why is that?

Because no other utility is yet willing to follow National Grid's example and impose a huge rate hike on its consumers merely to make some politicians feel good about themselves.

5 comments:

  1. Cartoon says it all...

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  2. The project (Cape Wind) makes sense only if investors can fund it without ratepayers/taxpayers being forced to underwrite it. What is so difficult about using that as the deciding factor? BTW did anybody research the effect of salt air and water on the turbines and cables? What a maintenance nightmare! It will effectively have to be re-built every 6-8 years.

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  3. I'm afraid this decision will already hurt my elderly parents who are on a fixed income and must decide between food or fuel for their home.
    Brenda Ramos--San Antonio,Texas

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  4. Hamilton: I agree. From Cape Wind to Solyndra to Evergreen Solar to just about every aspect of the Recovery Act's "green" spending, a common thread runs through every program pushed by so-called "green" advocate policy makers: they waste a lot of green.

    Anonymous 1: One among many interesting characteristics of Cape Wind: total (or even majority) private investor funding has never been on the table. This project has only ever made sense if heavily subsidized by the ratepayers, under government compulsion.

    Anonymous 2: That's yet another entirely foreseeable consequence of this boondoggle. Consumers on the edge will be pushed over, right along with small businesses and even large ones. A lot of ratepayers - from individuals on up to major corporations - have to think very carefully every year about whether they can continue to pay our (comparatively) astronomical price of energy. Government should be doing everything in its power to bring down that cost - instead it is doing exactly the opposite.

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  5. Opponents made a huge strategic error by letting the debate be framed early on as a choice between whining rich folks worried about their views of Nantucket, and whether birds would be be killed by the spinning blades or allowing a wonderful "green" energy source.

    When the real issue should have been how costly the electricity will be.

    The huge burden being placed on rate payers would have hit home with enough people so that this boon-doggle might have been stopped.

    ...looks too late now, Deval has shoved this right up the rate payers behinds.....

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