CommonWealth Magazine: The Codcast: The politics of energy, Cape Wind
Friday, June 3, 2016
The Senate's point person on energy and the developer behind Cape Wind share their concerns in this week's Codcast about the House energy bill, which calls for the state's utilities to solicit large amounts of offshore wind power and hydroelectricity from Canada, possibly in tandem with onshore wind or other forms of clean energy.
Sen. Ben Downing of Pittsfield, the cochair of the Legislature's Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy Committee, says the House bill doesn't go far enough, and needs to address energy efficiency, energy storage, and possibly even solar power. "The bill, as it's currently constructed, is too narrow," he says.
Interestingly, the bill came out of Downing's committee, but was crafted and voted out by just the House members. "The process hasn't been ideal by any means," Downing says.
Jim Gordon, the energy developer behind Cape Wind, also thinks the House bill is too timid, but his biggest beef is with its language excluding the Nantucket Sound wind farm from participating in the procurements for offshore wind. No one on Beacon Hill is willing to come out and say it plainly, but their concern is that Cape Wind's political baggage and its deep-pocketed opponents make it politically radioactive.
Matthew Beaton, the governor's secretary of energy and environmental affairs, summed up the political dilemma on Thursday. "We've always wanted to include competition, but we've also got a long story with Cape Wind and we don't want that to get in the way of what could be a successful development," he said.
Gordon, who lost two key power contracts for his project in January 2015 when he was unable to complete the wind farm's financing, now finds himself on the comeback trail, pleading for a chance to compete. It doesn't seem like anyone on Beacon Hill is listening, and Gordon says he is hearing from friends in the industry who claim "this seems unconstitutional to exclude a bidder for no rational public policy."