HYANNIS – Gubernatorial candidate Charles Baker said yesterday he would do everything in his power to block Cape Wind if he is elected.
In a meeting with the Times editorial board, the Swampscott Republican became animated talking about the cost of the wind turbine project planned for Nantucket Sound.
Cape Wind is “unaffordable, inappropriate and the wrong way to go,” Baker said. “I don’t think the project is a good idea, and I will use whatever means I have to continue my opposition to it.”
Gov. Deval Patrick has been a strong supporter of Cape Wind.
A proposal by National Grid to purchase some of the electricity generated by the wind power project is before the state Department of Public Utilities. Under the deal, Cape Wind would sell half the power from the 130-turbine project to National Grid for 18.7 cents per kilowatt-hour in the first year of the 15-year contract, with a 3.5-percent annual escalation rate.
When spread over all of the utility’s customers, the additional cost for the average residential customer in the first year would be about $1.50 per month, according to National Grid’s calculations. The DPU could make a decision on the deal sometime in November.
“If the Patrick administration had spent half the time on Hydro Quebec and working with the other New England governors as he did on Cape Wind, we’d be in a better place,” Baker said.
A spokesman for Cape Wind called Baker’s comments “irresponsible.”
“Charlie Baker’s stated preference is to buy far away wind power that creates no jobs here, that doesn’t stimulate the local economy, and that to fully build out would require billions of dollars of electric transmission, which doesn’t make it cheaper,” Cape Wind spokesman Mark Rodgers said.
Baker also criticized the cost to dismantle the wind turbines if the project went defunct. He referenced the hulking, rusting obsolete structures in Mel Gibson’s “Mad Max” movies as an image he could envision in the Sound.
The Boston Herald has reported that it would cost $66 million to dismantle the turbines.
Cape Wind will set aside money for decommissioning, Rodgers said. “For years, project opponents have irresponsibly complained that there is no decommissioning plan,” he said. “Cape Wind will be required to pay the money.”
After the official Times editorial board meeting with Baker ended, he again brought the discussion back to Cape Wind, saying he’s not sure the DPU will finish its review of the project before the election in November.
But even if it does, there are enough lawsuits in place to give him a chance to block the project, he said.
At one point, Baker pointed his finger like a gun at his temple in response to a question about green energy and whether that’s where new job growth can come from in the Bay State.
Instead, he said, Cape Wind will only serve to further hurt small business owners who will see their electric rates rise. “Let’s do what we can to help the small businesses that are here to see if we can help them expand,” he said.
In his hour-plus interview with the editorial board, Baker also touched on the need for state pension reform. The former Harvard Pilgrim Health Care CEO said he would require state employees with less than 10 years service to cover the cost of their retirements, cap pensions at $90,000 and stop the practice of state employees moving from one union to another to beef up their pension checks.
“People feel like there are two sets of rules, one for regular people and one for people on Beacon Hill or in government,” Baker said.
He also pledged support for Republican Jeffrey Perry in the 10th Congressional District race, despite illegal strip searches conducted by an officer under Perry’s command when he was a Wareham police sergeant.
“I support the ticket,” he said. “The voters here in this district are going to make the call on who the next congressman will be.”
Other issues touched on during the hour-plus session included taxes, ways to improve the state’s health care system by giving individuals more options, making the costs of health care more transparent to patients, and reforming the distribution of state education aid.
“I’ve taken a no new taxes pledge, and I mean it,” he said.
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