Gov. Deval Patrick’s three challengers yesterday slammed his plan to build wind turbines off Cape Cod, casting the $2 billion project as a no-bid boondoggle and warning it could mushroom into Bay State’s next Big Dig.
“This is a monstrous big bet,” said GOP gubernatorial candidate Charles D. Baker during an hour-long debate on the clean energy project, which he called a “sweetheart deal.”
“Many people will be paying a big bill on this without knowing what it is or why,” he added.
Even clean energy-friendly Jill Stein, running for governor on the Green/Rainbow ticket, sounded an alarm during the hour-long smackdown before about 300 people at the C. Walsh Auditorium at Suffolk University.
“There’s a lot of concern that this project could become like the Big Dig – that it could become Big Wind,” said Stein.
Patrick – who has long backed the Cape Wind energy plan – brushed off comparisons to the Central Artery/Tunnel project, which was plagued by delays and costly overruns. He said the hike to rate payers would amount to “a buck and a quarter” per month.
“The cost that matters is the cost to ratepayers, Patrick said.
He also defended awarding the project without competitive bidding, saying it’s no different that the state’s other energy project.
Bay State power plant developer Jim Gordon secured a no-bid contract to build 130 turbines off the coast of Nantucket Sound. He has also received assurances that 30 percent of his project costs would be picked up by taxpayers, but he has refused to discuss the project costs.
Patrick acknowledged yesterday he’s “curious” about the final tally but insisted what matters is the final cost to ratepayers.
Fireworks erupted during the face-off when Baker pressed Patrick on the no-bid process – and Patrick insinuated that electricity costs skyrocketed under Baker’s watch. Baker was secretary of administration and finance under Gov. William Weld.
“Boy, that is a stretch,” Baker huffed while shaking his head.
State Treasurer Tim Cahill, running as an independent, grilled Patrick about pumping $21 million in taxpayer cash into Evergreen Solar – only to have the clean energy company send jobs to China.
Patrick said the company promised to create 350 jobs and instead created more than 650 – and plans to move only 150 jobs to China.
Yesterday’s debate was sponsored by MassINC, a good-government think tank.
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