There is a certain circular logic to be found in this week’s approval by state regulators of the Cape Wind power-purchase deal.
The major benefit of the 15-year contract, the Department of Public Utilities spells out in its decision, is that it will help National Grid and the state meet minimum mandatory requirements for securing energy from renewable sources. Under the contract National Grid will purchase half of Cape Wind’s energy output.
“This contract fulfills a statutory mandate under the Green Communities Act to facilitate the development of renewable energy generation, and it does so with strong protections for ratepayers,” DPU Chair Ann Berwick said in a statement.
Of course, that “statutory mandate,” signed into law by Cape Wind supporter Gov. Deval Patrick in 2008, was worded in a way that essentially greased the skids for Cape Wind, and now the project is rolling right along its intended path.
Gee, don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?
The DPU also touted the “cost-effectiveness” of the deal, and said the above-market costs are justified by its “significant and unique” benefits. While the cost to all electricity ratepayers could eventually reach $1.4 billion over 15 years, supporters including Patrick have cited the “$1.50 per month” impact on residential bills.
But as the Herald has previously reported, that “cup of coffee” analogy wilts upon closer scrutiny. A small grocer would see his electric bill rise by $100 a month. A suburban hospital would face a $1,200 monthly increase and one school district would likely take an annual $9,480 hit.
When workers at those places begin filing for unemployment, the Patrick administration should remind them of the “significant and unique” benefits of the wind deal.
Let’s face it, Beacon Hill made National Grid and other utilities an offer they couldn’t refuse, Cape Wind investors secured a suitor for their astonishingly high-cost product and Patrick has polished his credentials with the environmental set.
Meanwhile the ratepayers are left holding one mighty expensive bag.
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