After months of staunch resistance, it appears that NStar has been persuaded to buy power from Cape Wind after all. Cape Cod Times reports on yesterday’s announcement:
Under the deal, NStar will enter a 15-year contract to buy 27.5 percent of the power generated by 130 wind turbines that Cape Wind Associates LLC plans to build in Nantucket Sound. If Cape Wind is not in operation by 2016, NStar will buy an equal amount of energy from another new, renewable energy source, Patrick said.
National Grid has already agreed to be buy half of Cape Wind’s power for 18.7 cents per kilowatt-hour.
While the exact details of the deal between Cape Wind and NStar have yet to be ironed out, it is expected to be almost identical to the pact with National Grid.
The deal was negotiated as part of the merger – now conditionally accepted by Massachusetts officials – between NStar and Northeast Utilities. But it appears that Northeast Utilities customers won’t be paying for Cape Wind power.
The cost of Cape Wind’s power will be spread across NStar’s distribution customers, Allen said. This includes electricity customers on Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard, even if they get their power supply from the Cape Light Compact or another source.
Customers of Western Massachusetts Electric Co., or WMECO, which is a subsidiary of Northeast Utilities, will not be charged for the cost of Cape Wind’s power, Northeast Utilities spokesman Al Lara said.
Cape Wind, of course, welcomed the news, calling it “a major step forward in making Massachusetts a leader in offshore wind power.” Cape Wind supporters, including Conservation Law Foundation and Mass Audubon, have also hailed the development calling it a “game changer” and a “giant leap.”
But, of course, Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound decried what they call “the state’s arm-twisting to force NStar to purchase power from this wildly overpriced project” and continued to emphasize the barriers still standing between Cape Wind and construction.
I spoke with my colleague and local Cape Wind expert Sean Corcoran briefly yesterday, and he seemed lukewarm about the announcement. Having buyers for more than 75% of the expected power production may or may not attract the additional buyers and financial backers necessary to get the project up and running. And there are still some permitting and legal obstacles to overcome. I’m hoping for a little more analysis from Sean in coming days, so keep an eye on his Cape Wind Blog.