Cape Wind is skunk at offshore wind party

Cape Wind, once the darling of the environmental movement, is officially persona non grata on Beacon Hill.

House leaders on Monday unveiled their long-awaited energy bill, and crafted it in such a way that Cape Wind would be unable to compete for offshore wind contracts. Only companies that have secured competitively bid leases on the outer continental shelf are eligible to bid.

You could see this coming. Rep. Patricia Haddad of Somerset has repeatedly tried to distance her vision of a home-grown offshore wind industry from Cape Wind and all the opposition (and lawsuits) it engendered from wealthy landowners who didn’t want the turbines spoiling their views.

“This is way offshore wind,” she told CommonWealth when she filed her legislation back in January 2015. “No one is upset about this. The offshore wind industry I’m talking about is not visible from onshore. It’s over the horizon.”

Paul Vigeant, director of the New Bedford Wind Energy Center, holds the same view. In a recent column, he said the wind farms being pushed by House officials “are in no way related to the moribund Cape Wind project, and none will be built in Nantucket Sound.”

Gov. Charlie Baker has a complicated history with Cape Wind. He railed against the project as a “sweetheart deal” between the Patrick administration and a lone offshore wind developer when he ran for governor in 2010. Now that Cape Wind is merely asking for a chance to bid on a contract, it’s unclear where Baker’s pro-competition philosophy will take him. He declined comment on Monday, saying he hadn’t read the House bill yet; his administration, however, recently rejected a bid by Cape Wind for a permit extension on a planned power line between the proposed Nantucket Sound wind farm and Barnstable.

The three companies that would be allowed to bid on the offshore wind contracts under the House legislation confidently say they are not afraid of competition. One official with close ties to all three companies says Cape Wind, bound by the federal permits it has already won, would not be able to submit a competitive bid because the project would be using technology that is more than a decade old.

Yet Jim Gordon, the businessman trying to keep Cape Wind alive, doesn’t seem worried. “If they’re right, then they’ll win the bid,” Gordon said. “If we’re right, then we’ll win the bid. All we want to do is fairly compete on a level playing field.”




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The top security official at the Transportation Security Administration was ousted amid growing complaints about long lines and inspection lapses at the nation’s airports. (New York Times)

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