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California activist group enters Cape Wind fray  

Credit:  By Patrick Cassidy, Cape Cod Times, www.capecodonline.com 4 December 2010 ~~

A group called Californians for Renewable Energy has filed a complaint with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission challenging a deal to sell power from the proposed Nantucket Sound wind farm.

The 51-page complaint filed Wednesday asks the federal agency to set aside an order issued last month by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities approving an agreement between Cape Wind and National Grid for half of the project’s power.

Among a list of wide-ranging and, at times, disjointed claims, the group argues the deal constitutes “electric energy market manipulation” and violates the Federal Power Act. Almost half of the complaint – 22 pages – is dedicated to claims that Cape Wind is connected to the Italian mafia.

Cape Wind spokesman Mark Rodgers called the complaint “baseless,” adding the “irresponsible ‘Italian mafia’ claim is false, malicious, and defamatory.”

Michael Boyd, president of CARE, said in a phone interview with the Times that his group is a member-based organization that acts on behalf of low-income residents, people of color and native people who are adversely affected by energy projects.

Northboro resident and vocal Cape Wind opponent Barbara Durkin is a member of the group and requested assistance in her fight against Cape Wind, Boyd said. He described the organization as believing in renewable energy, such as solar, but not as sold by traditional utilities. CARE is also a co—plaintiff in a federal lawsuit challenging the decision earlier this year by the U.S. Department of Interior to approve Cape Wind.

“I’m for power in the hands of the people,” he said. “The way I get that power back away from these monopoly utilities is one roof at a time.”

CARE’s complaint asks the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to impose the maximum penalty for alleged fraud committed under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of $1 million per day retroactive to June 5 or a civil enforcement penalty of more than $175 million. Much of the complaint relies on news reports; analysis by Durkin and former Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound president Glenn Wattley; and summations of alleged conspiracies that include various wind energy companies, Italian crime syndicates and the bankrupted energy company Enron.

“CARE blew the whistle on Enron and now CARE is blowing the whistle on the Massachusetts DPU approval of the Cape Wind-National Grid no-bid contract process,” Durkin said.

National Grid deputy general counsel Ron Gerwatowski said the complaint is “completely frivolous.”

“The parties that filed it simply don’t understand the law in this area and have distorted the facts,” he said. “We will file a response within the time provided by FERC rules.”

It is not the first time CARE has been accused of filing frivolous complaints with FERC. In 2009, the California Public Utilities Commission argued that CARE should stop wasting limited resources and be disqualified from FERC proceedings.

Anyone who wants to intervene or protest the California group’s complaint about the Cape Wind power pact has until Dec. 22 to file paperwork with FERC, agency spokeswoman Barbara Connors said.

Staff will review the CARE complaint and five FERC commissioners will determine any action, she said. The commissioners could decide the complaint does not fall under FERC jurisdiction, could find it is without merit or they could request more information, she said.

Connors declined to comment on whether FERC has authority to dismiss the state Department of Public Utilities ruling, saying that decision will be based on the CARE complaint’s merits.

Source:  By Patrick Cassidy, Cape Cod Times, www.capecodonline.com 4 December 2010

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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