Mass. utility agrees to buy power from Cape Wind

E&E • Posted: Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Massachusetts utility NSTAR has agreed to buy power from the proposed Cape Wind offshore wind farm, giving the long-delayed project guaranteed customers for the majority of its projected power output.

The contract filed with state regulators Friday would have NSTAR pay about $1.6 billion for the electricity over the term of the 15-year deal. That is $940 million more than the market price of conventional energy over the same period.

Critics of the project, which aims to be the country’s first offshore wind farm, have argued that its power is too costly and that cost will fall on the backs of ratepayers.

“It’s hard to imagine that the state could have forced a more expensive and burdensome agreement on Massachusetts households, municipalities and businesses,” said Audra Parker, who leads the anti-Cape Wind group the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound.

State regulators still must approve the agreement. When judging Cape Wind’s earlier deal with the utility National Grid, which was nearly identical to the current agreement, state regulators and the state’s highest court said the project is worth the cost because of the benefits it brings, including local jobs, cleaner air and a reliable source of renewable power near the busy coastline.

The contract with NSTAR accounts for 27.5 percent of Cape Wind’s projected power output. The earlier National Grid deal is for 50 percent of its output. Developers say having guaranteed customers for the bulk of the project’s power will help attract investors (Jay Lindsay, Associated Press, March 30). — AS