Cape Wind’s future is again in doubt this week after New England’s grid operator suspended the offshore wind developer from participating in wholesale electricity markets – at the same time Cape Wind executives are seeking to downplay the project’s termination of land-use agreements.
Earlier this month, two utilities who had together agreed to purchase more than 75 percent of electricity produced by the project terminated their contracts. That move was seen by many industry experts as a death knell for the 130-turbine project planned for Nantucket Sound (Greenwire, Jan. 7).
Last week, New England’s electric grid operator ISO-New England notified the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that it had suspended Cape Wind from participating in the wholesale electricity markets.
ISO-NE spokeswoman Lacey Girard said she could not comment on the specifics of Cape Wind’s case but that suspensions generally result from a participant not maintaining a minimum amount of collateral or not complying with other ISO-NE financial requirements.
Because the Cape Wind project has not yet been built, it could not have participated in the day-ahead or real-time energy markets. In the past, the developer has bid on ISO-NE’s forward capacity market auctions, which allow generators to bid on production three years in advance.
In 2013, Cape Wind did participate in the forward capacity market for 2016 and 2017, agreeing to supply between 74 and 145 megawatts of power per month between June 2016 and May 2017, according to ISO-NE’s FERC filings.
Because of the suspension, Cape Wind will no longer be allowed to participate in shorter-term auctions held by ISO-NE to reconfigure the 2016 power year in greater detail.
Cape Wind spokesman Mark Rodgers declined to comment on that development.
This month, Cape Wind also terminated a lease option agreement with Quonset Point, a port facility located at a former Navy base in Rhode Island that the developer had considered using to stage its wind farm.
Cape Wind had already paid a $10,000 down payment and $19,200 in rent to Quonset to reserve space for project construction when it decided to terminate its contract in January.
Rodgers downplayed that decision, saying that Cape Wind “no longer requires a lease option” there because of the completion of another port facility in Massachusetts.
In 2012, Massachusetts began construction of the Marine Commerce Terminal in New Bedford, Mass., that was designed specifically to meet the needs of the offshore wind industry. The terminal, which has twice the weight load capacity as Quonset, was built on an accelerated timeline in order to meet Cape Wind’s schedule and was completed in January.
Cape Wind signed a lease for the New Bedford facility in September. That agreement “remains in force,” Rodgers said.
A spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, which owns the terminal, confirmed that the lease remains in effect but would not comment further.
Cape Wind has also allowed a 2012 purchase-and-sale agreement for East Marine marina in Falmouth, Mass., to expire. That 3-acre marina would have been used to transport staff to and from the wind project, said manager Michelle Ostiguy. Rodgers declined to comment on that agreement.
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