In an election defined by a dour economy, Massachusetts voters face a stark choice in the race for governor, with the four candidates advocating widely divergent strategies for creating jobs, cutting runaway health care costs and changing the way state produces energy.
In recent interviews with the Globe, Republican Charles Baker and Democratic incumbent Deval Patrick challenged each other's positions on taxes, business regulations and the Cape Wind project; Independent Timothy Cahill proposed a plan to waive taxes on Massachusetts start-ups; And Green Rainbow candidate Jill Stein advocated a single-payer health care system and called for a loan fund to support green businesses.
Watch video at the right for extended responses from the candidates on how they would tackle the issue of energy costs if they were elected governor, and read their abbreviated responses below.
Our clean energy future is going to require a whole variety of solutions, not just one. Cape Wind is not designed or intended to be the solution, and I've never thought it was. I think it's a contribution, and I think that what we must do is not make the mistake we have made for 30 years, which is to have our interest in alternative energy piqued when gas and oil process peak, and then vanish as soon as gas and oil prices come down. When they go up, everybody in America says, 'It's time for us to get serious.' And then they ease off just that much and people say, 'Well, we're kind of used to it. We're saving a dime on a gallon of gas.' What I'm trying to be about in clean energy and frankly throughout government is how we start taking the long view, how we start planning well out over the horizon. And so stability in our electricity prices is a big part of the game here. It's never going to be just offshore wind; it's never gong to be Cape Wind on it's own. Its going to be a blend of energy efficiency, of solar, of other solutions.
Hydro Quebec can deliver five times the renewable energy that Cape Wind can deliver, and can do it for less than we pay now per kilowatt. Cape Wind does a little bit to reduce our carbon footprint, but it significantly drives up the cost of electricity in a state that already has the 4th highest electricity costs in the country. I would rather get five times the bang and spend less, than get a much smaller bang and spend more. I think Cape Wind will drive jobs out of Massachusetts. Everything about the way this thing is set up makes it look like a sweetheart deal for one company so that the governor gets to make the legacy claim that we built the first wind farm off the coast of Massachusetts. But it's a bad deal, it's the wrong project, it's too expensive and we shouldn't do it.
You have to back off on the 2020 commitment to get 25 percent of our energy from renewables. At least in terms of wind energy, it's shown to be a much higher cost structure. So like anything else, blind mandates are not going to make the cost go down; they're going to make the cost go up. The Patrick administration has made a huge mistake putting all their political capital into Cape Wind, driving that decision down peoples' throats, and adding to the cost of energy. They're not looking at nuclear as a viable alternative or natural gas as a viable, cleaner alternative. I think that misses and important point because you take your cheapest energy sources and use those. I don't think Massachusetts can solve this global warming issue all by itself. I don't think any state can do that. It needs to be a national policy or a worldwide policy.
Right now, the big investor-owned monopolies have control of energy costs and distribution by geography. They have enormous power to keep us where we are. The are some communities that sort of got grandfathered in and have community-based energy systems. They provide energy at as much as 40 percent reduced costs. They also provide better choice, so if a community wants to go renewable they can go renewable. But the bill that would enable communities to start their own utilities is dying in committee for the last six years. That's because the utility companies pay to play. This is a Legislature of pay to play. It's Beacon Hill of pay to play. You can ban together a bunch of municipal utilities and do offshore wind. We can do this in a way that's sustainable and clean, not just in terms of the energy but in terms of the politics. If it going to be sustainable energy, it's got to be sustainable to the people who are paying the bills, too.