High court upholds Cape Wind power purchase agreement


The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) recently upheld a decision by Department of Public Utilities (DPU) regulators to permit the electric utility National Grid to purchase half of the power from the 130-turbine Cape Wind offshore wind project to be built in Nantucket Sound, according to a State House News Service article.

The SJC issued a 34-page ruling written by Justice Margot Botsford on December 28, in which the court unanimously rejected criticisms of DPU’s review and approval of the purchase and power agreement included in a lawsuit brought by the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound and other opponents of the wind farm.

In their November 2010 ruling to approve the agreement, DPU commissioners noted that it would be expensive. They concluded that the benefits from the Cape Wind facility, which are not currently available from any other renewable resource, would outweigh the project’s costs.

Cape Wind opponents argued in part that the PPA violated the U.S Constitution’s interstate commerce clause, because National Grid did not consider less expensive, out-of-state power sources.

The SJC ruling said that the DPU review was “thorough” and “considered” and consistent with state law requiring public utilities to purchase 3 percent of their energy from alternative sources.

Justices noted that National Grid had determined that the potential benefits of buying Cape Wind power would benefit all of its ratepayers and that it would be reasonable for all of them to share in the costs, according to the State House News Service.

With news of the decision, Cape Wind president Jim Gordon said at a news conference in Boston he was hopeful that the long-delayed wind farm would be generating power within a year.