Baker’s Cape Wind conversion
Four years ago gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker strongly opposed Cape Wind as a “sweetheart deal” that would drive up the cost of doing business in Massachusetts. Now, according to an editorial in the Standard-Times, he has dropped his opposition to the proposed wind farm in Nantucket Sound, concluding the project is a “done deal.”
Baker’s “conversion” on Cape Wind is creating a lot of buzz in political and environmental circles, but it appears to be more a change of tone than anything else. Four years ago Baker took hard stances on a wide variety of issues and alienated lots of people in the process. This time around he’s being more selective, accepting policy decisions that can’t be changed and narrowing his list of enemies.
In 2010, Cape Wind was a minor but important campaign issue. Gov. Deval Patrick was the project’s biggest political supporter and his three gubernatorial opponents were all against it. The project had sold half of its expected power output to National Grid, but Cape Wind was searching for buyers for the rest. Two years later Patrick would force NStar to buy a quarter of Cape Wind’s power output in return for his administration’s approval for the company’s merger with Northeast Utilities.
Baker met with the editorial board of the Standard-Times last week to discuss a lot of issues. His stance on Cape Wind wasn’t mentioned in the next day’s story or video excerpts from his talk. But on Sunday Standard-Times editor Robert Unger wrote a broader piece about “the new Charlie Baker,” pointing out that the Republican had learned from his past mistakes. “He has dropped his opposition to Cape Wind, which he told our editorial board last week was a ‘done deal,'” Unger wrote.
A recording of the Standard-Times interview indicates Baker restated his opposition to Cape Wind (not competitively bid, not competitively priced) while also saying there was a promising future for competitively bid offshore wind. He said New Bedford could benefit as a staging ground for the growing offshore wind industry. An aide then interrupted to clarify that Baker would not try to undo any existing approvals for Cape Wind. Baker added: “Cape Wind is over.”
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