Cape Wind faces new federal lawsuit

Opponents and critics of the Cape Wind offshore wind energy project filed another suit Tuesday, alleging the state discriminated against out-of-state power companies with lower costs by pressuring NSTAR to buy power from an in-state company, Cape Wind. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court by the Town of Barnstable, businesses like the Keller Company and Hyannis Marina, and the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, alleges commerce clause violations and illegal regulation of wholesale electricity sales under the U.S. Constitution, the State House News Service reported. The suit alleges that state regulators refused to support NSTAR’s merger with Northeast Utilities until NSTAR contracted to buy energy from Cape Wind.

“We understand the need for green sources of energy, but it is unfair to be forced to pay three times the cost of other green energy for Cape Wind,” Keller Company President Joe Keller said in a statement relating to the suit against Massachusetts regulators, NSTAR and Cape Wind.

In April 2012, the Department of Public Utilities announced its approval of the NSTAR-Northeast Utilities merger. Among the merger settlement agreements was a provision requiring NSTAR Electric to purchase 129 megawatts of electricity from Cape Wind.

“This is a frivolous legal complaint with no merit. The opposition group was unsuccessful in challenging a nearly identical power contract between Cape Wind and National Grid and they will fail again here,” Cape Wind spokesman Mark Rodgers said in a statement. “After careful review, the Department of Public Utilities found that Cape Wind was ‘cost effective’ by providing unique benefits that exceeded the cost of its power.”

A spokeswoman for the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs declined comment, deferring to the attorney general’s office.