Mass. court upholds Cape Wind power purchase deal

Source: Johnson/Ellement • Boston Globe • Posted: Thursday, January 5, 2012

Massachusetts’ controversial Cape Wind project cleared a major hurdle last week when the state’s highest court upheld an agreement selling half the wind farm’s energy to a utility.

“Today is a really big day for Cape Wind, but it’s an even bigger day for clean energy in Massachusetts,” said Jim Gordon, president of the company that plans to build 30 turbines in Nantucket Sound. He said he hopes construction could begin in about a year.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s decision to uphold a power purchase agreement between Cape Wind and National Grid provides an assured market for Cape Wind’s power for its first 15 years of operation.

The state Department of Public Utilities approved the deal in November 2010, but it was challenged by four groups, including the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. They argued that the utility had improperly limited its search for renewable energy only to sources within the state and that the deal was not cost effective or in the public interest.

In last week’s ruling, the court unanimously rejected all of the critics’ arguments.

Bob Grace, a Massachusetts-based energy consultant who was not involved with the project, said the court’s decision was crucial for Cape Wind, but it does not guarantee the project.

“I think this was maybe the alliance’s best hope of derailing the project, or their next best hope,” he said. “From Cape Wind’s perspective, this is necessary but not sufficient to move forward. They need to still find buyers for the rest of their [energy] output,” which will help the company find investors to finance the project (Johnson/Ellement, Boston Globe, Dec. 28).