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Top Massachusetts business stories of the year

AP File

Nantucket Sound, where the Cape Wind wind turbine farm will be built in a 25-square mile area.

Readers have spoken, and by an overwhelming margin the biggest local business story of 2012 was NStar’s merger with Northeast Utilities that also included an agreement to buy power from the controversial Cape Wind project. Here are the others that rounded up the top five:

1. NStar of Boston merger with Northeast Utilities of Hartford, February
Massachusetts officials announced a breakthrough in a nearly yearlong negotiation with NStar and Northeast Utilities, agreeing to let the two utilities merge in exchange for providing critical backing for the Cape Wind project. The newly-combined $17 billion company agreed to freeze electric and gas delivery charges for Massachusetts customers for four years, saving ratepayers nearly $200 million. Meanwhile, NStar agreed to purchase 27.5 percent of the output of the Cape Wind project, which would give the offshore wind farm the assured sales needed to obtain financing for construction.

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2. 38 Studios goes under, May
Curt Schilling’s video game company, 38 Studios, goes from industry darling to abruptly filing for bankruptcy, leaving Rhode Island taxpayers stuck with $75 million in loan guarantees.

3.Fungal meningitis outbreak, October
The national outbreak, which was responsible for more than 30 deaths, was traced back to New England Compounding Center of Framingham. Authorities believe the company sold drugs contaminated with fungal meningitis to hospitals and clinics across the country.

4.Housing market on the mend
There were signs all year long that the Massachusetts housing market was finally turning around, not just bumping along the bottom. The latest numbers once again indicated that the housing market is on the rebound, with the best November since the market peak in 2005.

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5.(tie) Upper Crust goes bankrupt, October
After a series of labor problems and other setbacks, Upper Crust pizza chain files for bankruptcy.

5.(tie) Romney’s Massachusetts, September
Former Governor Mitt Romney’s handling of the Massachusetts economy, which experienced anemic job growth during his term, played a key role in a presidential election that turns on economic issues.

Alli Knothe can be reached at aknothe@globe.com.
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