HULL – Former U.S. Rep. William Delahunt and his consulting firm will help Hull advance plans for offshore wind energy but they won’t accept money for their work.
Delahunt, who faced a storm of criticism for nearly cutting a deal that would have paid his firm $90,000 from federal funds he earmarked while still in Congress, told the town Municipal Light Board that he would help the town for free.
“It’s a big plus for us,” said Patrick Cannon, who heads the Hull Municipal Light Board. Saving $90,000, he added, means “it can be spent toward that project.”
Cannon said Delahunt and Mark Forest, his former chief of staff and current executive director of the Delahunt Group, came to their meeting Thursday night and told the board they were concerned about the negative media coverage and criticism of the deal.
“Delahunt explained about the stuff that had been in the media and said, ‘I feel this is an important thing for Hull. I want to make sure there’s no black mark against us, and I want you to change the contract to no dollars,’” Cannon said about Thursday’s meeting.
Political observers had criticized Delahunt’s possible deal with Hull, saying it “smacked of insiderism” and confirmed people’s view of Congress as a “revolving door.”
In fiscal 2009 and 2010, Delahunt earmarked $1.7 million to help fund planning for Hull’s offshore wind project through the U.S. Department of Energy.
Hull now hopes to team up with the new Wind Technology Testing Center in Charlestown, which tests wind turbine blades up to 295 feet in length.
“We want to entice a developer to come test your turbines on our platform offshore like an R&D (research and development) type thing,” said Cannon.
What’s critical, he added, is that an offshore wind farm with four turbines can be built at a low cost or even free.
“There has be something in it for the ratepayers, and not just for green energy,” Cannon said. “If the dollars don’t work, it doesn’t work.”
Delahunt is expected to help Hull find grants and federal permits to make it a town fully powered by wind.
Quincy hired Delahunt last year to help secure grants for the $1.3 billion redevelopment of Quincy Center.
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