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Top Massachusetts Court Rejects Another Challenge to Cape Wind Project

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court dismissed yet another challenge to the Cape Wind project that would construct an offshore wind farm in Nantucket Sound in Melone v. Department of Public Utilities, SJC-10921 and 10922 (May 9, 2011). Having cleared the most significant legal hurdles in Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, Inc. v. Energy Facilities Siting Bd., 457 Mass. 663 (2010), individuals and groups made last-ditch efforts to derail the project in proceedings before the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities regarding power purchase agreements between Massachusetts Electric Company and Nantucket Electric Company (owned and operated by National Grid) and Cape Wind Associates, LLC.  

After National Grid filed a petition with the DPU to approve the power purchase agreements pursuant to Mass. St. 2008, c, 169, § 83, a number of individuals, corporations, and groups sought to intervene in that proceeding. Thomas Melone, an individual who owns beachfront property on Martha’s Vineyard, was one of those seeking to intervene, claiming that the proposed wind farm would alter the view from this property, diminish property values, and deposit oil and other contaminants from the turbines on his property. He also claimed standing as an abutter and a ratepayer. The DPU hearing officer denied the requests of all individuals, including Melone, but allowed certain groups and corporations to intervene. Melone ultimately presented evidence as part of one of the intervenor groups. Melone took his claim of standing to the top Massachusetts court

The SJC ruled that the DPU proceeding concerned the cost effectiveness of the power purchase agreements and that the environmental and other concerns that Melone raised were beyond the scope of the proceeding. Noting that Melone was, in fact, not a National Grid ratepayer, because Grid does not supply electricity to Martha’s Vineyard, the SJC stated that such status would not "give him any particularized interest entitling him to intervene in this matter, especially where the Attorney General has intervened to represent ratepayers’ interests."

For further information, please contact Marc J. Goldstein at mgoldstein@bdlaw.com or Aladdine D. Joroff at ajoroff@bdlaw.com