Longtime Cape Wind spokesman Mark Rodgers announced on his Facebook page Thursday that he has resigned from his role as the company’s spokesman.
“After 13 years and 2 months, today I am saying goodbye to Cape Wind,” Rodgers wrote. “I’ve learned a tremendous amount and met a lot of great people.”
He added that he is ready for new challenges and looking forward to the “next chapter” of his communications career, “whatever that turns out to be.”
Although Rodgers dismissed the idea, the announcement marks the latest in a string of apparent setbacks for the faltering proposal to build an offshore wind farm in Nantucket Sound.
Barbara Hill, former executive director of the pro-Cape Wind group Clean Power Now, which shut down in 2011, said Rodgers’ departure will be a loss for Cape Wind.
“He’s been an incredible asset for the project and clean energy in general,” Hill said, describing Rodgers as “the consummate gentleman.”
“Mark was grace under fire,” Hill said. “He never missed a beat, but always did it in a dignified and articulate manner. He did a phenomenal job as spokesman.”
Even Audra Parker, president of the primary Cape Wind opposition group, the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, expressed her respect for Rodgers.
“We’ve debated a lot on different sides of a long and intense fight, but he was always very professional,” Parker said. “I wish him well.”
Rodgers, Parker and other Cape Wind supporters and detractors often spent time in the same courtrooms, school auditoriums and restaurants as they traveled from place to place making their case for and against the project. In some cases they joked with each other shortly after engaging in sometimes heated debates during public hearings.
Rodgers and Parker, however, almost always remained consistent in ensuring the talking points for their respective organizations were included in news reports about the project, which continued even in the face of Rodgers’ announced resignation.
Parker said she took Rodgers’ departure as “another sign of the project’s continued struggles.”
In an email to the Times on Thursday, Rodgers continued to argue that the project isn’t dead.
“My decision to leave has nothing to do with the future of Cape Wind, and it would be a mistake to interpret it as such,” he wrote. “As (Cape Wind president) Jim Gordon recently told project supporters, reports of the project’s demise are greatly exaggerated.”
Gordon did not return a message seeking comment for this story.
Emily Kirkland, spokeswoman for Better Future Project, said she was sorry to hear of Rodgers’ decision, “but it doesn’t change our stand or determination to keep fighting for Cape Wind and offshore wind.”
Rodgers’ Facebook post on Thursday follows a series of problems that seem to foreshadow the end of the project, including the announcement earlier this month that a $4.5 million deal to lease the Marine Commerce Terminal in New Bedford for the staging and construction of the 130 turbines had been terminated.
In January, Eversource Energy, formerly known as NStar, and National Grid announced that Cape Wind had failed to meet some crucial contract deadlines and that deals to buy its power had been canceled. 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 opponents 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.
Despite the series of setbacks Cape Wind officials, including Rodgers, had said they continued to hold out hope that the project could still be built.
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