BOSTON (AP) — The decision by two major utilities to terminate their contracts to buy power from the proposed $2.5 billion wind farm in Cape Cod waters could kill the project, according to supporters and detractors of the plan.
National Grid and NStar — a subsidiary of Northeast Utilities — said Tuesday they ended their contracts because Cape Wind had missed the Dec. 31 deadline contained in the 2012 deals to obtain financing and begin construction, and had chosen not to put up financial collateral to extend the deadline.
NStar had agreed to buy 27.5 percent of Cape Wind’s power. National Grid had signed on to purchase 50 percent.
Cape Wind has proposed 130-turbine offshore wind farm in Nantucket Sound. If built, it would be the first offshore wind farm in U.S. waters.
“Unfortunately, Cape Wind has missed these critical milestones,” NStar spokeswoman Caroline Pretyman said via email. “Additionally, Cape Wind has chosen not to exercise their right to post financial security in order to extend the contract deadlines. Therefore the contract is now terminated.”
National Grid issued a similar statement.
“National Grid is disappointed that Cape Wind has been unable to meet its commitments under the contract, resulting in today’s termination of the power purchase agreement,” spokesman Jake Navarro said in an email.
Cape Wind spokesman Mark Rodgers said the developer does not “regard these terminations as valid” because of provisions in the contracts that would extend the deadlines, including the effects of protracted litigation by opponents of the project.
Cape Wind president James Gordon in letters dated Dec. 31 to both utilities and state regulators asked that the utilities hold off on voiding the contracts, citing “extended, unprecedented, and relentless litigation by the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound,” the leading foe of the project.
“The decision by NStar and National Grid to end their contracts with Cape Wind is a fatal or near-fatal blow to this expensive and outdated project,” Audra Parker, president and CEO of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound said.
Without buyers for its power, Cape Wind’s ability to secure financing needed for the project would become all but impossible.
Gov. Deval Patrick, a strong supporter of the project, issued a brief statement Wednesday that did not refer directly to Cape Wind, but expressed confidence in offshore wind energy.
“The future of off-shore wind in the Commonwealth remains bright, as does the path for the marine commerce terminal in New Bedford,” said Patrick, who leaves office Thursday.
Cape Wind signed a lease agreement with the state in September to use New Bedford for staging and construction of the project.
Ian Bowles, who as Gov. Deval Patrick’s first energy and environment chief helped shepherd the offshore project, said the project may be dead.
“Presumably, this means that the project doesn’t go forward,” he told The Boston Globe.