For millions of Massachusetts residents worried about soaring electric bills, the destruction of Nantucket Sound, the loss of commercial fishing and tourism, and the desecration of tribal land — in other words, all of us opposed to Cape Wind — the tide is turning.
Ten years after this controversial project was first proposed, it still faces numerous financial and legal hurdles. The reality that Cape Wind is an unaffordable boondoggle is setting in, not just here on Cape Cod and the Islands, but throughout Massachusetts, on Wall Street and in Washington. No private investor looking at this project and its high cost has yet stepped forward to finance it. And just recently the U.S. Department of Energy pulled back on a loan guarantee to Cape Wind, a sure sign that confidence in the project’s viability is dwindling and the project is nowhere near reality.
Cape Wind is struggling to find a customer for the remaining 50 percent of its costly power. No utility, even in the face of crushing political pressure, is interested when the same green power from other sources is available for less. NStar, for example, sought competitive bids and signed fixed-price contracts with three onshore wind projects for under 10 cents per kilowatt-hour. National Grid, by contrast, signed a no-bid deal with Cape Wind starting at 19 cents per kilowatt-hour. With a 3.5 percent guaranteed annual increase, the contract results in an outrageous price of 30 cents per kilowatt-hour in the final year. At an average price of 25 cents per kilowatt-hour, National Grid will pay an average of 25 cents per kilowatt-hour, 2.5 times NStar’s price, saddled on the backs of state households and businesses.
The other significant problem for Cape Wind and potential investors concerned about risk is the 10 lawsuits facing this flawed project. At the state level, four parties — a trade organization of 6,000 Massachusetts employers, a company selling cheaper green energy, an association of power generators throughout New England, and our group — have legally challenged the outrageous cost of Cape Wind’s contract with National Grid.
At the federal level, six lawsuits have been filed against the Department of Interior, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Coast Guard and other agencies. Plaintiffs include environmental groups across the U.S., Martha’s Vineyard commercial fishermen, the town of Barnstable, and the Barnstable Municipal Airport.
Opposition to Cape Wind is clearly strong and growing as the public increasingly realizes it doesn’t want to foot the bill for this ill-fated project and sees a pattern of broken promises.