On Monday, the Massachusetts DPU gave an early holiday present to Cape Wind, by approving the power purchase agreement it entered into with NSTAR. When the 27.5% of Cape Wind represented by this PPA is added to the 50% included in the National Grid PPA, it is looking more and more as though Cape Wind will actually make it to the finish line.
Even if Mary Beth Gentleman and Zach Gerson of Foley Hoag had not defended the two PPAs on behalf of the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, I would say that approval of these contracts was clearly the right decision. As the DPU said,
In light of the Cape Wind facility’s costs and its unique set of attributes (i.e., size, capacity factor, location on the regional transmission system, and advanced stage of development), we have found that the PPA will provide benefits to NSTAR Electric ratepayers that far exceed those that could be provided by other [renewable energy contracts under the Commonwealth’s Green Communities Act].
As I have previously noted, we can only hope that the federal government and the states have learned from the seemingly endless fight over Cape Wind and that the current process based on the identification and screening of wind energy areas will mean that the next off-shore wind project will not take quite so long to come to fruition.
While I share your positive sentiments about this step forward, I fear your optimism about future projects is unwarranted. Even if Cape Wind (relatively close to shore) can compete economically with subsidies, I think the area designated by the State and endorsed by the Federal Government for future development is way too far offshore to have any hope of being developed (much less built and operated) economically. Perhaps we should “grow up” like other jurisdictions who are serious about wind energy and realize that the aesthetics of placing turbine arrays close to the distribution network are not necessarily preemptive.