A leading opponent of the Cape Wind project says the long-awaited energy initiative in Nantucket Sound is likely dead after contracts with two leading energy utilities were killed.
The state, meanwhile, says it’s “too early to know the impact.”
National Grid and NSTAR both released statements saying Cape Wind did not meet financial commitments established in the contracts. Specifically, NSTAR said Cape Wind failed to secure financing or begin construction on the project by Dec. 31, 2014. They also failed to post “financial security” that would have extended that deadline.
“The deadlines Cape Wind has missed were contractually agreed-upon by both companies,” said NSTAR spokeswoman Caroline Pretyman. “Contracts such as the one between us and Cape Wind have these milestones so that projects that are unable to move forward do not burden customers for long periods of time in a high-priced market environment due to lack of supply.”
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“Effectively, this precludes them from getting financing and building,” said Audra Walker, a Cape Wind opponent and president of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. “From a practical standpoint, without the contracts, they can’t get the financing. It’s very bad news for Cape Wind. It’s great news for Massachusetts ratepayers.”
Cape Wind said it does not regard the contract terminations as valid. Mark Rodgers, a spokesman for Cape Wind, said there are provisions in the contracts that extend the deadlines.
“We are determined to supply our power to this supply-constrained region and we will pursue every option available to us,” said Rodgers.
Cape Wind has touted itself as America’s first offshore wind farm. The project calls for 130 wind turbines, each 258 feet tall, in the sound. Those turbines, according to the project, would provide an estimated 75 percent of the energy demand in Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. The idea first gained traction 14 years ago and the project has secured all the necessary state and federal permits, but without the contracts, there is doubt about its future.
Catherine Williams, a spokeswoman for the publicly-funded Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, said through a statement the most recent Cape Wind developments are “concerning” before adding it’s “probably too early to know what the impact will be.”
Gov. Deval Patrick, meanwhile, said he was unsure if the project could survive, according to the State House New Service.
"We've done everything as a state government to get them over the regulatory lines, and I've said before and say again, after that it's up to the market and up to the leadership of the project and their partners to get it done," said Patrick, according to that outlet.
Project Wind has said the offshore wind turbines would reduce electricity rates in the state. Opponents like Walker disagree.
Walker said the project would have made the state less competitive because utility companies would be forced to charge higher rates. All told, according to Walker, the project could increase electricity premiums by a total of $3 billion in the state.
“They’re not competitive. It’s expensive to build offshore,” she said. “They would need high rates to make money.”