Appeals court lets Cape Wind case proceed
Foes challenge Patrick's meddling in contract talks
CAPE WIND, already at death’s door in the wake of decisions by the state’s two largest utilities to terminate their power purchase contracts with the project, absorbed another blow on Monday.
The US Court of Appeals ruled that a district court judge erred in dismissing a lawsuit brought by foes of Cape Wind challenging the Patrick administration’s role in engineering one of the power purchase contracts. The contract for slightly more than a quarter of Cape Wind’s power output was signed in early 2012 by NStar Corp. in return for Patrick administration approval of the company’s merger with Northeast Utilities.
The appeals court decision means the district court will now rule on the actual claim of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound – that the Patrick administration violated the US Constitution “when it used its influence over NStar’s merger request to bring about NStar’s entry into an above-market wholesale electricity contract with Cape Wind.”
US District Court Richard Stearns dismissed the case in May 2014, ruling that the lawsuit could not proceed because the state is protected by sovereign immunity. The appeals court on Monday held that was not the case.
Jim Gordon, the president of Cape Wind, said in December 31 letters to the two utilities that litigation against the project over the years mounted by the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound is “extraordinarily unusual, unexpected, and significant. It has been completely beyond Cape Wind’s control and could not have been prevented or avoided.”