NEW BEDFORD — It was just after midnight on Aug. 1 when Wind Energy Center Director Matthew Morrissey received the text: “You’re all set.”
The short message signaled the defeat of a renewable energy bill in the House of Representatives that had threatened to dash New Bedford’s offshore wind hopes by giving utilities an incentive to sign 30-year long contracts with Canadian hydropower, potentially pushing offshore wind, and New Bedford’s economic future, out of the market.
The text was sent by offshore wind’s new and unlikely ally in the Statehouse: Rep. Patricia Haddad of Somerset.
That’s right; Somerset, of Brayton Point coal-fired power plant fame.
But with the plant set to go offline in 2017, taking more than 30 percent of Somerset’s tax revenue with it, Haddad has done an energy-policy 180, aligning herself with offshore wind interests in the hope that whatever economic development the industry brings to New Bedford will spread to Somerset.
That turnaround is no fluke, the result of concentrated lobbying on the part of New Bedford’s delegation. Haddad is a powerful ally to have, serving as Speaker Pro Tempore, second only to the Speaker in the House hierarchy.
It’s that role that brought her to the rostrum for the final hours of the House’s summer session when allies of the renewable energy bill, which never made it out of committee, were trying to tack it onto other pieces of legislation to sneak it through.
Haddad gaveled the amendments down, blocking the initiative from becoming law.
“We breathed a sigh of relief when we received that final text message from Rep. Haddad on the rostrum telling us ‘You are all set,'” Morrissey said.