Latest Setback for Cape Wind Could Be FatalKelly O’Connell for Zondits, January 15, 2015
Earlier this week, National Grid and Northeast Utilities, which had agreed to buy a combined 77.5% of the power Cape Wind was expected to produce, terminated contracts with the proposed wind farm. The project, planned as a 130-turbine, 468-megawatt offshore wind farm to be constructed in Nantucket Sound, has been amidst constant warfare since its origin approximately 13 years ago. This latest setback could be fatal.
The contracts were terminated due to Cape Wind’s inability to obtain financial support or begin construction before the end of 2014, which marked a critical milestone for the project. Furthermore, the company chose not to extend the deadlines through financial collateral on the grounds that the lengthy legislation process should invoke a force majeure clause within the contracts that allows some flexibility with deadlines.
Cape Wind is not regarding the terminations as valid and the utilities are rejecting the contractual arguments made by Cape Wind. Until the disputes are settled, it is unclear whether the project will come to fruition. There are many uncertainties surrounding the situation. The company may have run out of funding ‒ a likely cause of the forgone extension and missed deadline. The utilities may simply be looking to renegotiate the contracts, and not terminate them permanently.
Audra Parker of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, the leading opposition to the project, told NECN that she feels the project is outdated and economically unsound. On January 6th, in response to the news of the terminations, Cape Wind tweeted, “It would be a travesty if delays by a Koch-funded interest group could stop a project that would make Massachusetts the offshore wind leader.” Billionaire William Koch is the chief funder of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, which supports his personal interest in maintaining uninterrupted views at his vacation home on Cape Cod.
Supporters of the project, led by past Governor Deval Patrick, are disappointed by the setback and frustrated with the opposition that has caused so many hurdles for the project. Patrick expressed uncertainty in the project’s ability to move forward. But the newly instated governor, Charlie Baker, previously a Cape Wind opponent, changed his positioning on the project last year during his campaign and said he does not intend to interrupt any approvals that have already been made.