BARNSTABLE – Only days before a hotly contested gubernatorial election, the main group opposing the proposed Nantucket Sound wind farm has sued Gov. Deval Patrick over documents related to the controversial project.
The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound filed a lawsuit Friday against Patrick and other state officials in Barnstable Superior Court seeking documents related to negotiations surrounding a power deal between Cape Wind and National Grid.
“Governor Patrick’s office has sent a clear message that it will continue to deny the public its right to documents related to the relationship between Cape Wind, National Grid and top state officials,” said the alliance’s president and chief executive officer, Audra Parker, in a prepared statement.
In the 13-page complaint, the alliance argues that the state failed to respond in a timely manner to public records requests related to the power purchase agreement between Cape Wind and National Grid.
The requests for correspondence and other public records between Cape Wind, National Grid, and state and federal officials began in April, according to the lawsuit. As of Friday, the state had provided 87 pages, 11 of which were duplicative and 20 of which were heavily redacted despite a nearly $3,000 bill for the documents, according to the alliance.
In addition to Patrick, the alliance lawsuit names state Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Ian Bowles and Secretary of State William Galvin.
State officials are in the process of fulfilling the alliance’s public records request and will provide more documents soon, Bowles’ spokesman Robert Keough wrote in an e-mail to the Times. “The alliance’s request requires a search of three and a half years’ worth of correspondence and other records involving four dozen individuals and organizations named in the request, then redacting portions of those documents that fall outside the scope of the request,” Keough wrote. “In addition, the documents we produce must be reviewed carefully in light of the numerous lawsuits the alliance has filed against the Commonwealth, and the likelihood that the alliance will pursue further litigation.”
Patrick is the only candidate for governor who supports Cape Wind. The project’s developer is waiting on a decision from the state Department of Public Utilities on whether the 130-turbine project is cost effective.
Opponents of Cape Wind argue that the cost of the contract with National Grid is too high, while supporters contend that the stable price for the project’s power is better than volatile fossil fuel prices.
Cape Wind’s power is expected to cost the average National Grid electricity customer who uses 618 kilowatt hours a month an additional $1.50 each month over other sources of power.
The DPU could make a decision on the deal by the middle of November.
During a luncheon with campaign volunteers in Falmouth Friday, Patrick said that he had just learned of the lawsuit and had no comment on it specifically, adding that sentiments run high when it comes to Cape Wind.
“I’m proud of the fact that we’re about to be home to America’s first offshore wind farm,” he said.
Cape Wind officials have said they plan to locate personnel in Falmouth and announced recently that they would use a state-funded $35 million marine terminal in New Bedford specifically designed to support the assembly and installation of offshore wind turbines.
The lawsuit against Patrick is the latest in more than a dozen legal challenges that the alliance and others have pursued in attempts to stop Cape Wind.
In August, Cape Wind scored its most recent in a string of legal victories when the state Supreme Judicial Court ruled against a challenge by the alliance, the town of Barnstable and the Cape Cod Commission of a state Energy Facilities Siting Board permit.
The alliance was joined by a handful of environmental groups and individuals in suing the federal government after the U.S. Department of the Interior gave the project a green light in April.
Cape Wind spokesman Mark Rodgers declined to comment on the latest lawsuit.
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