Well, you had to know this day was coming.
Gov. Deval Patrick yesterday announced that NStar [NST] – as part of its bid to merge with Connecticut-based Northeast Utilities – has agreed to buy 27.5 percent of the electricity that will be generated by the yet-to-be-built Cape Wind project.
And by “agreed” we really mean “succumbed to unprecedented pressure from Patrick’s team, designed to ensure that the offshore wind project may some day, with enough government coaxing, actually break ground.”
Yes, Patrick and his team have been turning the screws on NStar for more than a year, since the merger plans were first announced.
And while NStar ratepayers will enjoy a four-year cap on distribution rates as part of the deal – a fact that was emphasized by Patrick and his energy secretary during yesterday’s news conference, as if it were the only important issue here – down the line they will surely pay a premium for the privilege of powering their homes with Cape Wind energy and for helping Patrick further his “green agenda.”
That includes not only individual ratepayers, but commercial customers who will eventually pay inflated bills for energy. Sure, that’s a recipe for a job renewal!
National Grid had previously agreed to buy 50 percent of Cape Wind power at well above market rates, but NStar had resisted the pressure from the Cape Wind cheerleaders, insisting it could meet its green-energy obligations under state law without it.
But Patrick’s team had the power of the regulatory process at its disposal – and would not be denied. As soon as NStar announced plans for the merger the die for this deal was cast.
Utility customers have been known to mail their bills to the State House occasionally in a combination protest/plea for relief. When the bills start rolling in for Cape Wind, they’ll be sending them to the right place.
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