Well, here in the Commonwealth this is no longer a debatable proposition. It is self-evidently and indisputably true that the Patrick Administration wants our energy to cost more. How do we know? Here's how:
Boston utility NStar has agreed to pay a starting price for power from Cape Wind project that is substantially higher than the cost of conventional energy and would add about $1 to customers’ monthly bills in the first year the offshore wind farm generates electricity, according to a 15-year contract filed with state regulators Friday.
The price, 18.7 cents per kilowatt hour, is similar to the price National Grid agreed to pay when it signed a contract in 2010 to purchase half the power generated by Cape Wind. NStar will purchase 27.5 percent of the wind farm’s total output.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities must still approve the contract.
The utilities pay about 8 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity and NStar originally balked at becoming a Cape Wind customer, arguing the wind farm’s cost was just too high. That position changed last month when, after nearly a year of negotiations, state energy officials agreed to endorse a proposed merger between NStar and Connecticut-based Northeast Utilities if NStar made several concessions, including buying power from Cape Wind.
“We know that it will take a diversified approach using all available renewable resources to meet the state’s climate change goals,” NStar spokeswoman Caroline Pretyman said. “We recognize that renewable energy has a cost associated with it but we see this is an investment in our state’s clean energy future.”
The agreement left little room for NStar to negotiate the price it would pay for the energy, dictating, according to regulatory filings, that the utility’s purchase price “shall be substantially the same” as the price National Grid agreed to pay. NStar also committed to purchasing a comparable amount of power -- roughly 2 percent of its load -- from another wind project, if Cape Wind hasn’t begun construction by the end of 2015.
“There was a precedent because National Grid had already negotiated a contract so we knew going into it that our contract would be similar to their’s,” Pretyman said.
The price stipulations has left critics questioning the state’s role in bringing about the deal. Customers bills are expected to rise by about $1.08 per month, NStar estimates.
“The ‘negotiation’ around this contract was a complete sham,” said, Robert Rio, a spokesman for the Associated Industries of Massachusetts, a trade group that has long opposed the high price tag for Cape Wind’s power. “We’ll never know what the final [price] number could have been because NStar was hamstrung in the negotiation process.”Leave aside the merits of the theory on which Governor Patrick and his colleagues are operating here - the expectation that higher prices today will pay off with lower prices some time in the future, when they expect the reality of renewable energy to catch up to their aspirations. All of that can be debated, but the issue at bar is whether there can be any remaining doubt about the Patrick Administration's present and active desire for higher energy prices in Massachusetts.
The irony is that it falls to NSTAR - the utility that was just bludgeoned into complicity in the price-hiking - to tell consumers the "truth" of the matter: “We recognize that renewable energy has a cost associated with it but we see this is an investment in our state’s clean energy future.” That's an "investment" that NSTAR resisted making for as long as it could; one that it ultimately made at the point of a metaphorical regulatory gun. One that its customers will now pay for.
In any event, by their actions the Governor and his allies have established beyond any possible dispute that they want our energy prices to be higher.
If I am wrong, show me how.
If I am wrong, show me how.
|Sorry to repeat myself...|