Town of Barnstable v. O'Connor, No. 14-1597 (1st Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
Since 2001, Cape Wind Associates, LLC has attempted to acquire the necessary permits and approvals for a wind power generation facility in Nantucket Sound. Under a settlement agreement, NSTAR Electric Company agreed to purchase one-quarter of Cape Wind’s output. The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) approved the contract. Plaintiffs - the Town of Barnstable, a non-profit advocacy group, and businesses and individuals residing near the proposed facility - filed this action in federal district court seeing an injunction and a declaratory judgment against officials of the DPU, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, Cape Wind, and NSTAR. The district court dismissed the complaint, determining that the Eleventh Amendment barred the assertion of federal court jurisdiction over Plaintiffs’ claims. The First Circuit vacated the judgment of dismissal and remanded, holding (1) the district court erred in concluding that Plaintiffs’ claims fell outside the Ex parte Young exception to the Eleventh Amendment; and (2) the case was not moot or unripe.