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Mass AG Demands Cape Wind $ Info


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Molly Line
Boston, MA

Mass AG Demands Cape Wind $ Info
July 12, 2010 - 12:13 PM | by: Molly Line

After jumping through nearly ten years of regulatory hurdles, environmental assessments and after finally receiving federal approval, America's first wind farm is facing another legal complication as Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley demands to know the full cost of the project and just how much of the burden taxpayers will shoulder.

Cape Wind developers plan to erect 130 wind turbines in the waters of Nantucket Sound off the shores of Cape Cod. Coakley's office is demanding information on construction costs, operating expenditures and profit expectations. She's aiming to ensure customers pay a fair price for the energy project's power.

In May, Cape Wind struck a deal with National Grid for the utility provider to buy half the project's energy output for 20.7 cents per kilowatt hour beginning in 2013. The price would increase 3.5% each year for 15 years. Based on rate expectations, National Grid predicts typical residential customers will pay an increase of $1.59, or roughly 2%, per month.

Corey Welford, a spokesperson for the Attorney General released the following statement:
"We think that the underlying construction and operation costs of Cape Wind and profits to the project's investors are relevant to whether National Grid's contract with Cape Wind is cost effective and in the best interests of Massachusetts ratepayers. We have requested that the Department of Public Utilities order Cape Wind to provide this information."

Critics of Cape Wind estimate the project will cost well over a billion dollars, including millions shelled out by taxpayers in the form of energy subsidies.

Cape Wind's developers are not happy about the call for financial disclosure and argue they are being treated differently from other energy projects.

"We do have a concern that the attorney general is asking for information from Cape Wind that hasn't been provided by any energy company in Massachusetts, but the important thing is we believe we're going to be able to reach an agreement with the attorney general that will be able to move Cape Wind and Massachusetts forward with new jobs, cleaner air and greater energy independence," said Cape Wind spokesman Mark Rodgers.

"Cape Wind in 2013 may raise electricity prices by 2%, but set against a backdrop of fossil fuel prices having quadrupled before this last recession in just a few years that's the real risk to consumers," argued Rodgers. "Cape Wind can provide a stable price for 15-years."

Cape Wind aims to begin construction by year-end but the project is facing several lawsuits, including one put forth by a coalition of environmental groups. Mega-retailer Walmart has also challenged the value of Cape Wind, questioning National Grid's cost estimates in a filing with the state last month.
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