Sound incredible? … well!
Read carefully for the tangled web of politicians and developers and politician/developers and developer/politicians and money money money!
Sorta makes me queasy!
The entire post follows:
Despite significant opposition in Western Massachusetts, state environmental affairs secretary Ian Bowles is pushing hard to get a controversial wind-turbine law passed before the legislative session ends on Nov. 18.
The bill could benefit a wind-energy firm, recently relocated to Boston, whose chief executive helped co-author the proposed law and whose financial backers have close ties to the Obama administration.
With the bill before the Legislature’s joint committee on telecommunications, utilites and energy, Bowles met this week with House Speaker Robert DeLeo in an effort to move it along.
“The secretary is very supportive of this bill and anxious to see it move,” Bowles’ spokesman Robert Keough told the Herald.
The Wind Energy Siting Reform Act aims to streamline the permitting process for commercial wind turbine developers. Supporters say its passage will make it much easier for wind-energy firms to operate here, while critics say it will strip communities of their rights.
“Massachusetts is a state of independent communities,” said Eleanor Tillinghast, who lives in the Berkshires, where the turbines will most likely be erected. “If this bill is passed, it will undermine towns’ abilities to develop in the ways they think are most appropriate.”
Keough disagreed, saying the bill has been revised to better protect local interests.
Still, the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission maintains its opposition to the proposal, while some environmental groups say it hasn’t been properly vetted.
On Beacon Hill, the bill is seen by some as the next step in Gov. Deval Patrick’s broad plan to position clean energy as the state’s next economic development engine.
Now, the bill’s critics are wondering if a controversial wind-energy firm with ties to the White House may be poised to benefit.
First Wind Energy Holdings, LLC, which runs five wind farms and has many more in development, just relocated to Boston.
Its chief executive, Paul Gaynor, sat on the state commission that wrote the bill, and its main investors are Chicago private-equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners and the New York hedge fund D.E. Shaw.
Rahm Emanuel, President Obama’s chief of staff, has in the past called executives at Madison Dearborn supporters and friends. Lawrence Summers, director of Obama’s National Economic Council, made more than $5 million as a D.E. Shaw managing director.
Obama’s decision to give the firm $115 million in stimulus funds outraged people in New York, where the attorney general has investigated First Wind for corruption.
A First Wind spokesman said the company has no immediate plan to build in Massachusetts.
Keough said if the bill passes, that could change. “They’ve shown little interest in (Massachusetts) so far, because the permitting process is so uncertain and perilous,” he said.
By Christine McConville
6 November 2009
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