The controversial Cape Wind offshore wind-power project took another step in its long journey from concept to reality this week, as the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) approved a 15-year power purchase agreement with National Grid to buy its energy, capacity and renewable energy credits.

National Grid, the big Northeast electricity provider, had inked the deal for Cape Wind’s clean power back in May. The agreement was criticized by some environmentalists as well as consumer and business groups, all furious that it will result in above-market rates leading to a 2 percent increase in the average National Grid ratepayer’s monthly electricity bill. In the wake of the DPU decision critics vowed to appeal the decision.

image via University of Delaware

“The Department of Public Utilities has shown its willingness to let Cape Wind gouge consumers by whatever amount is necessary to make money for its backers,” David Tuerck, executive director of Suffolk University’s Beacon Hill Institute, told the Boston Herald.

The DPU didn’t dispute that the rates would be higher than for traditionally sourced power, but said it found “the contract price was reasonable for offshore wind, which the Department determined to be needed to meet state renewable energy and greenhouse gas requirements.”

For its part, Cape Wind lauded the DPU for a “comprehensive” review process that included “13 days of evidentiary hearings with testimony from 15 witnesses, 1,362 exhibits and nearly 3,000 transcript pages.”

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