Cape Wind gathers steam
By Sue Reid, Conservation Law Foundation
Yesterday’s decision by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) to approve a 15-year contract for the sale of half of Cape Wind’s power to National Grid removed yet another major hurdle for the nation’s first offshore wind farm and confirmed what CLF and other project supporters have long known to be true: Cape Wind is a good deal for ratepayers.
Customers will get some relief from the volatile fossil fuel price rollercoaster while Cape Wind takes a major bite out of global warming pollution and forces some of the most expensive and dirty fossil fuel-fired power plants to reduce their operation.
In finding the contract “cost-effective” and “in the public interest,” the DPU overrode opponents’ most recent objections that the project supposedly is too expensive and will lead to huge profits for the developer. In fact, the decision pointed out again – for those who chose to overlook the terms spelled out in black and white in the Cape Wind contract – that the developer will not reap windfall profits because the profits are capped and cost savings will flow back to the ratepayers. And, the contract price is fixed and predictable over the entire 15-year term of the contract.
CLF is thrilled, if not entirely surprised, that the DPU found the project to be good for ratepayers. As noted in the DPU’s decision, the estimated price impacts are very small and are significantly outweighed by the benefits. Customers will get some relief from the volatile fossil fuel price rollercoaster while Cape Wind takes a major bite out of global warming pollution and forces some of the most expensive and dirty fossil fuel-fired power plants to reduce their operation. This is a major win for the environment and the emerging clean energy economy.
As an intervening party in the DPU proceeding, CLF took the lead working with the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), NRDC and Clean Power Now to introduce extensive expert testimony, cross-examine one of the opponents’ principal witnesses (an avowed climate skeptic), and draft detailed legal briefs to make the case for approval of the Cape Wind contract.
John Rogers, senior energy analyst at UCS said, “With this decision, Massachusetts has taken a real step forward on behalf of the commonwealth and the country as a whole. We know that offshore wind represents a real opportunity for economic development and environmental progress. This move means we’re ready to say yes to that opportunity.”
Over the past decade, Cape Wind has withstood exhaustive environmental and permitting reviews, demonstrating over and over that its benefits will far exceed its impacts. Since the contract was so thoroughly vetted, we are confident that today’s decision paves the way for a much more streamlined review and approval of a contract for the second half of Cape Wind’s power, renewable energy credits and other output. With federal, state and local approvals, a lease and a long-term contract, Cape Wind is looking more and more like a sure thing.