September 16, 2010
Rhode Island

State of Rhode Island hires outside lawyer in offshore-power dispute

Alex Kuffner, The Providence Journal, 16 September 2010

PROVIDENCE – The state has hired one of Rhode Island’s top appellate attorneys to represent it in the state Supreme Court case surrounding a proposed offshore wind farm.

John A. “Terry” MacFadyen is representing Governor Carcieri, House Speaker Gordon Fox and Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed in defense of a law passed in June that allowed developer Deepwater Wind to negotiate a power-purchase agreement with utility National Grid.

The controversial pact for the sale of power from a proposed eight-turbine wind farm near Block Island was approved by the state Public Utilities Commission in August despite having a starting price for offshore wind power that is more than twice the price for power from conventional sources. The attorney general’s office, the Conservation Law Foundation and two Rhode Island manufacturers filed appeals with the Supreme Court to have the contract overturned.

The state will pay MacFadyen $245 an hour for his work. Amy Kempe, the governor’s spokeswoman, said the state had no choice but to hire outside counsel. The attorney general’s office would normally represent the state in a case like this, but it was one of the parties that filed the appeal.

MacFadyen has represented many high-profile criminal defendants, including Claus von Bulow and Vincent A. Cianci Jr. He was one of five finalists this year for the vacant Supreme Court seat that eventually went to Gilbert V. Indeglia.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in March, according to Jerry Elmer, staff attorney for the Conservation Law Foundation.

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