The state's Department of Public Utilities Monday approved an agreement that will allow power distributor National Grid to buy half of the electricity generated by the Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound.
Monday's ruling was a key victory for backers of the project, because it assures that once Cape Wind's 130 wind turbines are installed and spinning, there's a utility that will buy at least half of the power.
In its ruling, the DPU called the power purchase agreement between National Grid and Cape Wind both cost effective and a good deal for ratepayers because it provides protection against volatile fossil fuel prices, while helping the state reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
National Grid customers initially will pay about 18.7 cents per kilowatt hour -- which is about double the current cost of
electricity. But because it's just a small percentage of Nation Grid's overall supply, customers should only see an increase of about $2 a month on their electric bills. Then, after the year 2013, the price goes up 3.5 percent annually.
The plan to install wind turbines off the coast of Cape Cod received federal approval this past April. And Monday's DPU ruling is one of the final regulatory hurdles the project needed to overcome before beginning construction.
The last major hurdle is financing the project, but having an approved customer and set electricity rates should make that task easier. Although so far, Cape Wind has not found buyers for the other 50 percent of its power.
Opponents of the project said they expect to appeal Monday's ruling in the courts.
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