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CLEAN POWER'S DIRTY SECRETS

Updated on July 15, 2010

FROM GAS TO WIND AND BACK TO GAS

Matt (Matthew S.) Palmer is a very affable fellow. He smiles easily, is bright and displays a ready sense of humor. And, he has accomplished a good deal in his life. In 1985 he graduated from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, he is a licensed professional engineer and a licensed power plant operator. Also, in 2006 he completed his masters degree in public administration. Employed now as the project manager for a private energy developer who wants to build a large gas-fired power plant in western Massachusetts he seems to have followed a predictable career path.

Of course, there is that odd detour he took that led him to a two year stint as executive director of an advocacy group on Cape Cod whose sole purpose is to promote approval and construction of the Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound. That group, Clean Power Now, is as staunch a Cape Wind supporter as one can find anywhere, excepting perhaps Mass Audubon. And, that is fine. We live in a nation that has enshrined in law free speech and the rights of individuals to advocate for their personel choices. Clean Power Now (CPN) claims over 14,000 members and has been in operation since 2003, two years after Cape Wind's leading oppponent, the Alliance To Protect Nantucket Sound was formed.

Palmer was a natural choice for the lead at CPN. He certainly has the technical background by both education and experience to comment on the operation of power plants. He worked for a few years for an energy developer as the project manager for gas-fired plants in southern Massachusetts and thus was familiar with Massachusetts regulations as they affect such facilities. Outgoing and generally the sort of person everyone sees as friendly and decent he made a very good appearance as he spoke about CPN's reasons for supporting Cape Wind. One blind spot he seems to have is that he agreed with Cape Wind's claims about both the cost of their power and the cost of conventional power; as we now see in black and white National Grid intends to pay more than twice the conventional power price for Cape Wind's power. Of course, Matt Palmer could not control what Jim Gordon, Cape Wind's CEO said.

On the other hand, any advocacy group serious about their mission and their reputation, as a matter, of course, continually monitors their cause. They remain vigilant to ensure that nothing inaccurate or deceptive is said by those for whom they advocate. Matt Palmer might have had a difficult time doing this. Or, he may have had a different perspective from that of an honest broker: he had worked for Jim Gordon. Prior to his stint at CPN Matt Palmer had been employed by Energy Managerment Inc. And, after he completed his masters degree at Suffolk University he returned to EMI where he is now the project manager at the Pioneer Valley Energy Center in Westfield, Massachusetts. In that role Pamler is husbanding the progress of permit applications locally and at the state level for EMI to build and operate a 400MW gas-fired power plant (except in winter when the plant will burn oil).

Conclude what you will. But, ask yourself why this interesting realtonship has not been revealed in the mainstream media. While he came across as an enthusiastic clean energy advocate while he was the head of Clean Power Now, Matt Palmer was still very much in the orbit of Jim Gordon. CPN is very careful to state that they receive no funds from Cape Wind or its employees and never have. That is fair. Nonetheless, Matt Palmer's career path finds him at a place from which he cannot possible claim impartiality. While Matt Palmer may not be a dishonest person he certainly had a huge conflict as he claimed to be an impartial supporter of Cape Wind. Shouldn't the same rules apply to everyone?

Copyright 2010 by Peter A. Kenney

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