Deval Patrick asks Cape Wind to freeze rates for 10 years

Cape Wind's Jim Gordon is receptive to proposal

Democratic candidate for governor Deval Patrick announces his support for the
Cape Wind project Tuesday morning beneath the municipal wind turbine in Hull,
surrounded by about 40 supporters, members of Clean Power Now and union workers

Exclusive to cctoday story & photos by Jack Coleman

HULL - Democratic Deval Patrick has become the first candidate for statewide office to endorse the Cape Wind project, but with a catch.

Speaking to 40 campaign supporters, members of the Clean Power Now pro-wind farm group and union workers beneath the municipal wind turbine in Hull yesterday, Patrick said he is calling on Cape Wind "to further demonstrate the benefits" of the 130-turbine project "by freezing electric rates for a period of 10 years once the project is up and running."

"I expect to find and reach that compromise with the developer as governor." -Patrick

"And I expect to find and reach that compromise with the developer as governor," said Patrick,  who announced his support of the project in the context of releasing the fourth chapter of his "Moving Massachusetts Forward Plan," his proposals for "energy independence and environmental stewardship."

With the whirring blades of the Hull wind turbine audible behind him, Patrick said "we have a real opportunity, it seems to me, here in Massachusetts, to show leadership - leadership in alternative and renewable energy, leadership in environmental stewardship, leadership in the way we plan today for tomorrow.

"And what I want to bring as governor is a commitment to the future, and when we think about the future, it isn't enough to say that we hope that gas and oil prices will come down one day. It isn't enough to say that as long as we conserve today, as important as that is, we can manage our way through to sometime when oil again will be cheap," Patrick said. "We've got to put a stake in the ground, a real stake, that moving to alternatives today is the right decision for our common future."

Cape Wind President says he's receptive to Patrick's proposal

With just over a year to go before the 2006 election, Patrick is one of two Democrats vying for the party's nomination for governor, along with Attorney General Thomas Reilly. Reilly is a staunch opponent of Cape Wind and has said he'll take legal action to prevent the project from getting built.

Patrick speaks with members of Clean Power Now after endorsing the Cape Wind project. From left are Megan Amsler, Peggy Wineman, Matt Palmer (barely visible in front of Mrs. Wineman), Bill Griswold and Dorte Griswold, at right (All photos by Jack Coleman)

Patrick, who grew up in poverty in Chicago, attended the prestigious Milton Academy prep school outside Boston on a scholarship and received his law degree at Harvard. He served in the Clinton administration as head of the civil rights division of the Justice Department.

Patrick also has experience in the energy industry, having worked in the legal department of Texaco as the company's first black executive.

When asked about Patrick's proposal on freezing electric rates, Cape Wind CEO Jim Gordon said he was receptive.

"Because renewable energy projects have no fuel costs, they are uniquely positioned to offer long-term contracts that can protect the consumer from escalating energy costs," Gordon said. "Cape Wind would be willing to work with Mr. Patrick's challenge and attempt to structure long-term contracts with local retail suppliers."

Gordon said he has not donated money to Patrick's campaign.

Patrick brings his campaign to the Cape on Saturday, with fundraising stops at Napi's Restaurant in Provincetown at 10 a.m., the SeaDog Restaurant in Eastham at 1 p.m., the Mills Restaurant in Marstons Mills at 4 p.m. and Jillian's Restaurant in North Falmouth at 7 p.m.

"Because renewable energy projects have no fuel costs, they are uniquely positioned to offer long-term contracts that can protect the consumer from escalating energy costs." -Gordon

In Hull yesterday, Patrick said that "every project - every project - has some flaw. There is no perfect project, there's no perfect place. But there is a project today that has run through four years of extensive environmental and ecological review, that has been thoughtfully considered, that should be thoughtfully reviewed within a context of a comprehensive regulatory framework for development of ocean resources.

"That project, I believe, is the Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound and I am proud to announce my support for that project," he said, to cheers and applause.

"When I started down this path, I thought I would go and talk to both sides in the argument. It turns out there are four or five sides and I've talked to all of them, or almost all of them, at this point. And there are thoughtful objections, there are thoughtful arguments on the other side of this question. There are aesthetic concerns, there are environmental concerns, and there are going to be passions that run high over a project of this kind," Patrick said. "But the role of leadership, in my view, is to balance those interests, no matter how high the passions run, and to make a judgment that is in the best interests of all the people of Massachusetts. And I believe that this project passes that muster."

"This is a good project for our economy, this is a good project for our Commonwealth, because it's both about great jobs, both in the construction and the maintenance and the management of the project," Patrick said. "It's also about putting a stake in the ground in our own leadership, as a location and an incubator for alternative and renewable services and products.

Respect the concerns of people who don't share this opinion

"If we make Massachusetts the center for that kind of business, for that kind of industry, the whole world will be our customer," Patrick said. "And that is good for Massachusetts."

The municipal wind turbine in Hull has been producing free electricity for that town for four years already, and yes, that's Boston just oacross the harbor from Hull.

Patrick urged other Cape Wind supporters to "go forward in a way that respects the concerns of people who don't share this position," with issues still to be worked out and other potential compromises remaining.

"But let's be clear about where we are going," Patrick said. "Massachusetts is going to be the world center for the development of alternative and renewable energy - that is where we are headed. And with your help, that is exactly what we are going to do."

Gordon, who said he could not attend the event in Hull due to a schedule conflict, said "Mr. Patrick seems to be tapping into the aspirations of Massachusetts citizens. They want to transition away from fossil fuels, they want more stable energy prices and a healthy environment."

"He seems to understand that," Gordon said. "He gets that."

Patrick's endorsement also drew praise from State Rep. Matthew Patrick, another Cape Wind supporter. "We need good jobs for our kids, cleaner air to breathe, a cleaner environment and electricity rates that aren't going up 50 percent to pay for the increasing costs of fossil fuels with no end in sight," Patrick said.

"We need to show the rest of the country that we are willing to host the kind of renewable energy projects that we are going to need more and more of over the next several decades if we are to keep electricity affordable and hold global warming at bay."

Deval Patrick's endorsement of Cape Wind prompted skepticism from the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, the project's main opposition group.

"In fairness to Mr. Patrick, he did reach out to us," said Alliance spokesman Ernie Corrigan.

"Here is a candidate who is for something, not just against something"

Corrigan said Patrick's support of Cape Wind came across more as a "pro-renewable energy position " than backing of a particular project. "Our focus is entirely on Cape Wind," Corrigan said.

Corrigan also cited research conducted by the Beacon Hill Institute last year that claimed the Cape Wind project would cost $211 million more than the benefits it would provide. The methodology of the study, which was funded by Alliance backers, has been called into question by Cape Wind and its supporters.

Dennis Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Spyro Mitrokostas, a Clean Power Now board member and former aide to Gov. Michael Dukakis who worked in Dukakis's 1988 presidential campaign and has advised candidates on the Cape, said Patrick's support of Cape Wind sets him apart from other candidates for governor, who potentially could include Lt. Governor Kerry Healey and former Turnpike Authority Christy Mihos, a co-chairman of the Alliance.

"Here is a candidate who is for something, not just against something," Mitrokostas said.

Patrick's announcement was preceded by a legislative breakfast organized by the Alliance at the Sandwich Glass Museum and attended by only three of the eight legislators representing the Cape and islands - State Sen. Robert O'Leary and state representatives Eric Turkington and Jeff Perry. All oppose the Cape Wind project.

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