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Energy policy threatens state’s economic viability

The Supreme Judicial Court this week gave the Cape Wind project a big boost by giving its imprimatur to most of the state permits needed in order for work to proceed. Meanwhile, state Rep. Lori Ehrlich, D-Marblehead, was among those testifying in Washington recently for greater regulation of coal-burning power plants like the one in Salem.

It’s hard to argue with efforts to reduce pollution and end our dependence on fossil fuels. On the other hand, it’s important to keep in mind that such initiatives do not come without a price.

National Grid, under pressure from the state, has signed a contract by which it agreed to pay twice the going rate for all the electricity produced by Cape Wind; while the electricity produced at Salem Harbor Station is among the cheapest of any available to the region’s power grid other than that provided by New England’s nuclear power plants.

Now comes word of a rate request filed by the Western Massachusetts Electric Co., which threatens to raise rates substantially for its largest customers.

The rate proposal, also heavily influenced by “green” advocates on Beacon Hill, is an example, according to Associated Industries of Massachusetts, of how “misguided state energy policy makes even sound rate proposals by responsible utilities hazardous to the economic health” of the commonwealth.

By pushing renewable energy without regard to its cost, AIM contends, the state “threatens of chase away key employers who form the backbone of the western Massachusetts market.”

Unless some balance is restored to state energy policy, we could end up with a state that’s green, but broke.