What if you spent 10 years and $2.6 billion to build a wind energy project, but still couldn’t find customers?
OK, so that’s not technically the case with Cape Wind, since National Grid has agreed to purchase half the power produced by the heavily subsidized operation.
But few commercial enterprises could stay in business if they only managed to sell 50 percent of their inventory – and at well-above-market rates.
The difference with Cape Wind, of course, is that it has been and will continue to be propped up by its powerful political cheerleaders, who are pulling out all the stops to make sure their pet project is a success.
That includes sending a member of the president’s cabinet to deliver the final permits for the project, in person, as Interior Secretary Ken Salazar did this week.
And it may even include moving the regulatory goalposts in the middle of the game, by pressuring NStar [NST] to join National Grid in agreeing to buy energy from Cape Wind.
NStar has thus far shown no interest, insisting it can meet its green-energy obligations under state law without Cape Wind, citing deals it has struck with several land-based wind projects that will not result in inflated rates for its customers.
But those deals require approval from the very people who are leading the charge for Cape Wind.
At the same time, NStar needs the Patrick administration’s OK for its planned merger with Northeast Utilities. Already, the administration has changed the standard of review for that merger, issuing a unilateral decree (after the utility filed notice of its plans) that it must provide a “net benefit” to the public. The long-accepted standard was that such a merger result in “no net harm.”
Asked whether the administration would pressure NStar into a Cape Wind deal, Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard Sullivan said Tuesday, “nobody is saying ‘have to.’ ” Well, they wouldn’t say it out loud, now, would they?
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