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Cape Wind Has Paid Millions To Lawyers Who Cannot Read

Updated on August 27, 2010

Perkins Coie Strikes Again - Stupid But Costly

In the continuing battle over the Cape Wind project the opposition's principle voice, the Alliance To Protect Nantucket Sound (APNS) has stumbled yet again. Of course, they had help from their high-powered Washington lawyers, the firm of Perkins Coie. How far the mighty have fallen. One of Perkins Coie's partners made unbelievably stupid and totally incorrect statements in writing as she responded on behalf of APNS to the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities in the matter of Cape Wind's proposed long term power purchase agreement with National Grid. A previous HubPages post entitled Cape Wind's Most Effective Lawyers described how expensive and ineffective Perkins Coie appear to have been. Now they have trumped even that. One of their partners, Carol A. Smoots, cannot read too well.

Some background is in order: who are Perkins Coie? This law firm was founded in Seattle, Washington in 1912. Last year they employed a total of 700 lawyers and showed income of $394.5 million. They are ranked 88th out of the top 100 law firms in the world. Perkins Coie's first major client was the Boeing company, whom they have represented since Boeing was founded in 1916. Today their client list includes Microsoft, Google, Nintendo, Craigslist, Facebook, Intel, At&T, Obama, Safeco, T-Mobile, the Democratic Leadership Council, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Al Franken, John Kerry for President and on and on. They still represent Boeing. This firm is a powerhouse of political influence.

It appears that one of Perkins Coie's strengths is their ability to alter the face of reality. They are the folks who have mounted challenges to completed elections and in Al Franken's case changed election outcomes. Their supposed expertise combined with their undeniable political connections should have made them a perfect choice to kill the Cape Wind project. But, after being paid, by some estimates, more than $5 million by APNS they have failed to do more than write stupid comments to government agencies.

Here is the latest Perkins Coie foul-up: One of their partners wrote comments on behalf of APNS and submitted them to the Massachusetts DPU challenging Cape Wind's proposed power purchase agreement (PPA) with National Grid. The basis of her argument was in part her claim that the Massachusetts Green Communities Act did not provide for PPAs being made with renewable projects not yet financed. The Green Communities Act is the two year old Massachusetts law which is the foundation of the requirement that energy transmission companies (utilities) actively pursue PPAs with green energy producers. It specifically says that a purpose of the law is to provide financial incentives to encourage and support the development of renewable energy.

The Massachusetts DPU issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for renewable energy producers to submit pricing and terms to provide rebnewable energy to Massachusetts utilities. The RFP was found to be severely flawed as it was clearly designed to eliminate any bidder other than Cape Wind and an emergency regulation was promulgated to issue an ammended RFP. Attorney Smoots' comments were made in response to this new RFP.

In spite of the law's very clear statement of purpose, in spite of the legal mandate passed by the Massachusetts legislature and signed by the governor in July of this year Perkins Coie partner Carol A. Smoots completely misinterpreted not only the intent but also the language of the Green Communities Act and of the ammended RFP. In so doing she caught the attention of the general counsel to the Massachusetts Division of Energy Resources (DOER). This lawyer, Robert Sydney responded on August 3, in writing and for the public record, "The Alliance 's (APNS) comments on this issue represent a misreading of the ammended RFP." Smoots simply "misread" the law! And, she is not some junior asscociate at Perkins Coie, she is a partner. Now she has drawn an unkind glance from DOER.

Why APNS finds it necessary to use an expensive Washington law firm to make such huge blunders is mystifying. They could just as easily have paid less to an incompetent Massachusetts lawyer. More likely, they could have found competent representation locally; a firm whose ordinary practice makes them experts in Massachusetts regulatory law and procedure. For that matter, APNS could have saved a lot of money and simply screwed up all by themselves. Cape Wind's CEO, Jim Gordon, must be laughing all the way to the bank. I am betting he sends Ms. Smoots, he is too cheap for that....he'll just smile at her when next he is in Washington. Oh well, it is all a Smoots point anyway.

COPYRIGHT 2010 By Peter A. Kenney


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