- Rep. Jeff Miller: ‘Ain’t no leash for VA’
- Al Qaeda nets $125M from ransom payoffs from Europe since 2008
- Ohio Gov. John Kasich cruising to re-election: survey
- Landslide hits Indian village; 150 may be trapped
- Albania bank loses $7M in theft; police arrest 2
- Gov. Mike Pence irked as Obama sends illegals to Indiana on sly
- Israel, White House say Obama phone call to demand cease-fire was fake
- Nancy Pelosi: Deporting kids un-Christian, sends them ‘into a burning building’
- Islamist militants seize special forces base in Benghazi, Libya
- Feds sue Pennsylvania State Police over women’s fitness tests
Merger pressures Massachusetts utility on wind power
Question of the Day
BOSTON — The nation’s first offshore wind farm enjoys high-profile federal and state backing, but it hasn’t been able to win over one important party: the second-largest utility in Massachusetts.
Cape Wind sorely needs to attract big power customers to obtain the financing to fully build out its 130-turbine project in Nantucket Sound. But the utility NStar has taken a tepid public stance on Cape Wind — chief executive Tom May once proclaimed his company “agnostic” about it.
It may be about to get religion.
Since the merger was announced last year, regulators added a requirement that such deals must advance the state’s clean energy goals, which include developing offshore wind. The state also made a request, still pending, to stay proceedings for a review of the merger’s effect on rates — a lengthy process that could lead to a merger-killing delay.
The moves are obvious attempts to pressure NStar to buy power from a favored private developer, said Republican state Rep. Brad Jones, minority leader in the Massachusetts House.
“[It’s] the great administration shakedown of NStar,” he said.
In the Wall Street Journal, environmental attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr. accused Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration of “trying to hold hostage the proposed NStar-Northeast Utilities merger unless the two electric companies agree to buy Cape Wind’s power.”
But the state says it’s just upholding the law and protecting the public interest. Asked whether the filings were related to Cape Wind, Department of Energy Resources commissioner Mark Sylvia said, “No.”
The state is now in discussions with NStar about the utility buying Cape Wind’s power, Mr. Sylvia said. He said a purchase would be “a welcome step,” because Cape Wind helps meet various state clean energy goals, including installing 2,000 megawatts of wind energy by 2020, he said.
Asked whether a purchase would affect the state’s decision to pursue the merger stay, he said: “We’d drop our motion to stay, ultimately, if NStar could demonstrate how the proposed merger would result in a net benefit to ratepayers and the commonwealth’s clean energy goals.”
Cape Wind represents the nation’s first major step in turning its offshore breezes into energy. Last year, U.S. Interior Secretary Kenneth L. Salazar approved the project after nine years of grinding federal review, hailing it as “a new direction in our nation’s energy future.”
It soon had its first customer in National Grid, the state’s largest utility, which agreed to buy half of Cape Wind’s power for an average of about 24 cents per kilowatt hour over 15 years. Its deal met a state requirement that utilities enter long-term contracts to buy 3 percent of their electricity from renewable sources, but critics said it was too expensive for electricity customers.
No other state utility has since signed on, and NStar is the only one large enough to buy a significant chunk of Cape Wind’s output. Without committed buyers for all its power, Cape Wind is unlikely to find financing for the full $2.6 billion project, which it plans to begin operating in 2013.
TWT Video Picks
- Boehner rules out impeachment: 'Scam started by Democrats'
- Patent workers paid to exercise, shop, do chores: report
- Fla. mom arrested for allowing 7-year-old son to walk to park alone
- CARSON: Rudderless U.S. foreign policy
- Obama thanks Muslims for 'building the very fabric of our nation'
- Obama mum on where illegal immigrant children are sheltered
- Smugglers, rainstorm combine to poke holes in border fence
- Defense lawyer: McDonnell's wife had 'crush' on CEO
- Federal judge grants 90-day stay in D.C. gun case
- Feds sue Pennsylvania State Police over women's fitness tests
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world