A $4.5 million deal to lease the Marine Commerce Terminal in New Bedford for the staging and construction of 130 wind turbines has been terminated – one more bit of ground Cape Wind has lost since January, when it failed to meet some crucial contract deadlines and had deals canceled by its two power purchasers.
“Cape Wind is clearly in deep trouble and failing,” said Audra Parker, president of a group of project opponents known as the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound.
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center issued a statement Monday saying the agency and Cape Wind “mutually agreed to end their lease agreement,” which would have allowed the wind energy company use of the facility for two years with an option to extend the lease for two more.
“If Cape Wind is able to secure financing in the future, MassCEC will engage Cape Wind in a new agreement for use of the facility,” Clean Energy Center spokeswoman Catherine Williams wrote in the statement.
Mark Rodgers, spokesman for Cape Wind, said the timetable for the project has changed since the deal between the clean energy agency and the wind project organizers was inked. The game-changer was the loss of a purchaser for the power the turbines would generate, he said.
“We initially hoped we were going to use the terminal this year, but now it’s clear we’re not going to do that,” Rodgers said.
The turbine project’s tumble began in early January when National Grid and Eversource Energy announced the end of plans to buy power from the proposed Nantucket Sound wind project, saying Cape Wind had failed to secure financing and meet other important milestones. The two utility companies planned to purchase about 77 percent of the energy generated.
Cape Wind could have paid $1.8 million to extend the agreements for an additional six months but instead claimed that the long history of litigation by abutters constituted a force majeure, which would allow the extension of the contracts without the payment.
The utilities disagreed. Without buyers for its energy it’s nearly impossible for Cape Wind to secure the $2.6 billion required for construction, according to renewable energy financing experts.
A few weeks after the utilities backed out of their contracts, Quonset Development Corporation confirmed it terminated a lease agreement with Cape Wind for a port facility in Kingstown, R.I.
An arrangement to buy a marina in Falmouth Harbor, announced in 2012, also appeared to be dead in the water in late January, with an employee there saying Cape Wind was “not in the mix anymore.”
Cape Wind was also suspended from participating in New England’s wholesale electricity markets by ISO New England.
Rodgers said Cape Wind is focused on getting the utility companies back to the table. “We are resuming contact with them in an effort to resolve our difficulties,” Rodgers said.
Asked about the status of the company’s contract with Siemens, the firm that has agreed to construct the 130 turbines and pitch in $100 million to the project, Rodgers said that’s also on hold “until we can resolve the power purchase agreement.”
News that the Clean Energy Center terminated its lease agreement with Cape Wind came just two days after a rally on Boston Common, where 300 supporters of the wind project called on National Grid president Marcy Reed to reinstate the agreement to purchase the power.
“We are grateful that one hundred thousand of our supporters have signed onto a petition and three hundred supporters came out into the cold on Saturday at a rally in Boston to support Cape Wind,” Rodgers wrote in an email. “Both the rally and the petition call on National Grid to come back to the table to negotiate with Cape Wind and to save our PPA (power purchase agreements).”
Emily Kirkland, communications coordinator for the Better Future Project, the group that organized Saturday’s rally, declined comment on this latest development when contacted Monday.
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