The Cape Wind proposal for 130 wind turbines in Nantucket Sound still faces thousands of enemies across Cape Cod, including one Edward M. Kennedy of Hyannis Port.
But with Tuesday’s election, the project gained a crucial new friend in Governor-elect Deval Patrick. He has cited building Cape Wind as the centerpiece of a major effort his administration would make to promote Massachusetts as a hotbed for start-up “renewable energy” companies, including suppliers of equipment for wind- and solar-powered electric generation.
“If we get that right, the whole world is our customer,” Patrick said in an interview this summer.
Paul Gromer, executive director of the Solar Energy Business Association of New England, said a key step Patrick could take would be increasing the charge on Massachusetts electric bills – currently about 25 cents a month for average homeowners and small businesses – that funds a $250 million state “green energy” trust.
Patrick also will have a chance to recast the Department of Telecommunications and Energy, which has been criticized for years for tilting in favor of utilities rather than consumers. Patrick could name one new commissioner in January and two more in December 2007, achieving a Patrick-appointed majority on the five-person board.
Patrick also has pledged to reverse the Romney administration’s decision to pull out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a multistate effort to cut pollution.
Patrick’s energy stance mirrors a national Democratic push to cut emissions and make the country more independent from foreign oil by promoting domestic production of ethanol fuels from agricultural crops.
“There will be an extreme shift in attitude toward energy policy, especially in the House, during the next session under Democratic leadership,” said Richard Powers, a partner with Washington, D.C., law firm Venable LLP.
Powers predicts Democrats will try to repeal some of the tax breaks and benefits big energy and oil companies got from last summer’s Energy Policy Act, while pushing new tax credits and regulations promoting solar, wind, and ethanol.
By Peter J. Howe
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