Mass. Regulators Approve Offshore Wind Power


"A 130-turbine wind farm is planned for Nantucket Sound."

State utility regulators on Monday approved a 15-year power-purchase deal between the nation's first offshore wind farm and its first customer, saying the arrangement is in the public interest and its benefits exceeds its costs.

The Department of Public Utilities endorsed the deal between the utility National Grid and Cape Wind, a 130-turbine wind farm planned for Nantucket Sound. National Grid has agreed to buy half of Cape Wind's power, beginning in 2013, when developers aim to begin producing power.

The starting price is 18.7 cents per kilowatt hour about double today's price of power from conventional sources and increases 3.5% per year for the life of the contract. That charge covers electricity, capacity and renewable energy attributes.

Cape Wind foes argued the cost was too high and would be a huge drag on local businesses. They also said there was a plentiful supply of cheaper alternative energy, such as land-based wind.

"Approving it is in the public interest, because no other renewable resource in the region matches Cape Wind in terms of size, proximity to large electricity load, capacity factor, and advanced stage of permitting; and because its bill impacts are in the range of 1 to 2%," regulators said in a statement.

Advocates also said the contract had a minimal cost of about $1.50 a month to residential customers who use an average of 500 kilowatts monthly and would be a good deal in the long term, compared to volatile fossil fuel prices.

They said that a large-scale project such as Cape Wind was badly needed to meet the state's renewable energy requirements, and would bring numerous additional benefits, such as new clean energy jobs and climate change mitigation.

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