Cape Wind’s new foes

After years of sitting on the fence, the state’s top CEOs came out against Cape Wind yesterday in a series of full-page newspaper ads in the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, and the Cape Cod Times.

The Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, a coalition of 16 corporate chieftains, joined long-time Cape Wind foe Associated Industries of Massachusetts in saying the proposed wind farm “does not make sense.” The two business groups say the wind farm will yield few local jobs along with high-priced power that will put the state at a “severe competitive disadvantage.”

Those arguments are nothing new. What is new is who was making them. The Competitive Partnership includes the heads of some of the biggest and most connected companies in Massachusetts, including Fidelity Investments, Partners HealthCare, Raytheon Corp., Suffolk Construction, State Street Corporation, Liberty Mutual, Mass Mutual, EMC Corp., the Kraft Group, Bank of America, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Staples, BJ’s Wholesale Club, and Putnam Investments. The president of the partnership is Dan O’Connell, a former economic development cabinet secretary under Gov. Deval Patrick, Cape Wind’s chief political sponsor.

Northeast Utilities, which agreed to buy Cape Wind power in order to secure Patrick’s approval for a corporate merger, is also a member of the partnership, but partnership officials say Tom May, the company’s CEO, abstained from voting on the ad buys. May has never thought much of Cape Wind, but he’s keeping his mouth shut. NECN quotes a company spokeswoman as saying Northeast Utilities disagrees with the views of the other companies in the Competitive Partnership.

Cape Wind was conceived and approved at a time when electricity prices were rising. Now, with natural gas plentiful in the United States, electricity prices are low and many expect them to remain low for some time. Wind power is still attractive environmentally, but there are other green power options that might serve just as well at a lower price point.

Cape Wind has all the state and federal approvals it needs as well as buyers for 77.5 percent of the power output. The proposed wind farm is still battling a handful of court challenges in Washington and trying to find investors willing to front the capital for the project. To help in that effort, it has asked the federal government for several hundred million dollars worth of loan guarantees.

The business group ads are unlikely to have any practical effect on Cape Wind, but they are another sign that opposition to the project is no longer confined to billionaire businessman Bill Koch and other Cape Cod landowners who don’t want to look at wind turbines from their waterfront homes. The opposition now includes the heads of the most influential corporations in the state.

                                                                                                                                                                            — BRUCE MOHL

BEACON HILL

MassDOT board member Janice Loux:  Never mind. One day after startling all concerned by putting a hold on a $500 million development project because of nagging questions about its financing — some of which were addressed in a briefing paper she had not read before Wednesday’s board meeting — the hotel workers union chief said she was now OK with the project.

Keller@Large says departing Lt. Gov. Tim Murray has some unfinished business with Massachusetts citizens. The Berkshire Eagle argues that Murray’s departure may launch a debate about whether the position is even necessary.

The Massachusetts Senate passes its budget plan and now goes to conference with the House, State House News reports (via WBUR).

MARATHON BOMBINGS

The Globe explores dead Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s possible connections to a 2011 triple murder in Waltham. Meanwhile, there are some similarities between the suspected Boston bombers and the men who killed a British soldier in London this week.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The FBI grills an aide to Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua about a decline in income from a city-owned parking garage, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

A proposed methadone clinic in Lowell is attracting opposition from local residents, particularly those over the town line in Chelmsford, the Sun reports.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

The Boy Scouts of America has voted to allow openly gay teens as members but left in place its ban on homosexual adult troop leaders.

Minnesota passes a $2.1 billion tax package, largely aimed at wealthy residents. The funds will pay for an expansion of early- and higher-education programs, as well as a new football stadium. Revenue proposals have faced a much tougher road in Massachusetts.

ELECTIONS

Ed Markey, who has been accused of being MIA on the campaign trail for US Senate, hasn’t exactly been tied up with congressional duties, as the Globe reports that he’s missed the last 40 votes in the US House, a string dating back to May 9.

Republican Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez lends a sympathetic ear to Gloucester fishermen who oppose Obama administration policies generally backed by Markey. the Gloucester Times reports. Markey is wooing voters who supported his primary rival, Stephen Lynch, but many are resisting, WBUR reports. Gomez is getting help from the state GOP, but he’s facing a big TV gap with Markey, CommonWealth reports.

Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian joins the crowded field of pols lining up to take a shot at Markey’s House seat; the list also includes state Sens. Katherine Clark, Karen Spilka, Will Brownsberger, and Rep. Carl Sciortino.

Rep. Carlo Basile is yanking his support from Boston mayoral hopeful Dan Conley, after Conley backed a citywide referendum on a proposed Suffolk Downs casino.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Ipswich approves the opening of a Subway franchise despite complaints that it would detract from the character of the town, the Salem News reports.

The Atlantic wonders why corporate taxes are near a 60-year low, when corporate profits are at an all-time high.

Google has Amazon envy.

EDUCATION

Ninety-two percent of Boston public school teachers received a ranking of “proficient” or “exemplary” under a new evaluation system meant to bring more rigor to a review process that had been widely seen as ineffective and pro forma.

The Institute of Medicine urges schools to make physical education a core requirement, mandating at least 60 minutes of exercise daily, the Associated Press reports (via Telegram & Gazette).

Two parents who were officials of a Middleboro PTA were arraigned on charges they embezzled $30,000 from the group for their own personal use such as grocery shopping.

A recount in the race for Somerset School Committee has ended in a tie between the board’s chairman and a first-time challenger and is now in the hands of selectmen to decide a winner.

In City Journal, “New York’s public school paradox.”

TRANSPORTATION

Just in time for Memorial Day weekend, the Department of Transportation has activated 48 portable electronic messaging boards on state highways including to and from the Cape to give drivers real-time traffic updates.

An interstate highway bridge collapses in Washington state.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

NStar has agreed to meet with individual Duxbury residents with town officials present over concerns about the company’s plans to cut down trees on its property to reduce the risk to transmission lines.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

A convicted rapist from Rockland who fled the state to avoid prison and lived under an assumed identity in Maine for 34 years before being caught was sentenced to two consecutive 18- to 20-year terms.

The Rhode Island Board of Education allows colleges and universities to arm their security officials, the Providence Journal reports.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

On Greater Boston, Eric MacLeish, one of the lead attorneys for victims in the clergy sex abuse scandal, talks about his own experiences as a sexually abused child and his efforts to change the state’s statute of limitations on the crime.

Lawyers for Whitey Bulger ask the judge the limit the testimony of relatives of Bulger’s alleged victims at his upcoming murder trial.