NStar eschews Cape Wind power – will buy elsewhere
Credit: By Rich Eldred, Cape Codder, www.wickedlocal.com 23 February 2011 ~~
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BREWSTER – NStar is looking far beyond the waves of Nantucket Sound to purchase its share of renewable energy, leaving Cape Wind still seeking a buyer for half its power.
NStar filed contracts last Friday with the state Department of Public Utilities to purchase 108.9 mw of renewable energy from three sources: Hoosac Wind in the Berkshires, Groton Wind in New Hampshire and Blue Sky East of Maine.
The contracts were signed Dec. 23, and the DPU has 180 days from the Friday date of filing to approve the deal.
“Clearly, that shows that there are readily available alternatives at a much lower cost than Cape Wind that make much more sense for Massachusetts ratepayers,” said Audra Parker of Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. “Cape Wind is hard pressed to find a buyer willing to pay two to three times market [value] and other green energy costs.”
Not that hard-pressed, they say.
“If you combine Cape Wind and all of the other planned land-based wind and solar projects, they still don’t equal the required demand for clean energy as mandated by state law in Massachusetts and the other New England states,” declared Cape Wind spokesman Mark Rodgers. “There is still considerable market out there.”
Under the state’s Green Communities Act, power companies must provide 3 percent of their power from renewable resources. The deal with the three wind energy facilities would cover 1.6 percent of NStar’s energy generation.
“We still need 94 megawatts to get to our 3 percent obligation,” said NStar spokesman Caroline Allen. “The legislation allows up to four or five years from mid 2009 to fulfill the requirement.”
So there is a market there, but Cape Wind must sell 234 megawatts more. National Grid has purchased half the output for 18.7 cents a kilowatt with a 3.5 percent annual increase after 2013. The price for traditional power is around 10 cents a kilowatt.
“There are a number of potential buyers at the end of the day,” Rodgers said. “The characteristics of our product, which are different, is that we have stronger performance at the times of peak demand, that we are geographically close to the grid that needs power and not behind a transmission bottleneck as is the case in Maine, and with a Massachusetts buyer, there is jobs creation in the state, making it of interest to buyers.”
“I think NStar, despite outrageous pressure from the Patrick administration to have NStar purchase Cape Wind power as a condition for the approval of the merger (with Northeast Utilities) clearly did not succumb to the pressure and is doing the right thing for ratepayers by bypassing Cape Wind,” she said.
Allen said NStar won’t disclose their purchase price.
“Pricing terms are confidential,” she said. “But we believe the contract represents good value as an onshore wind resource for our customers.”
NStar provides power for all of mainland Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard.
Groton Wind, in Groton, N. H., and will have 24 turbines producing 48 megawatts of power. It’s supposed to go online in July 2012. Hoosac Wind is comprised of two separate projects of 10 and nine turbines in Florida and Monroe, Mass. That project, set to start up in December 2012, has been tied up in litigation for the past six years but it will produce 28.5 megawatts. Blue Sky East is in Eastbrook, Maine, and they’ll build 18 turbines to produce 32.4 megawatts of power, starting in May 2012. That contract is for 15 years, the other two are for 10.
If they are unable to sell the power, Cape Wind might have to scale back its plans.
“We’re confident we can sell more in addition to the 50 percent National Grid has already approved,” Rodgers said. “Our preference is to sell in Massachusetts but there is a New England-wide market.”
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