By David Abel
As recently as last fall, Cape Wind officials were vowing that by the end of 2014 workers would start digging the trenches and laying the cables to erect 101 massive wind turbines in Nantucket Sound, a $2.5 billion project meant to be the nation’s first off-shore wind farm.
As of Tuesday, when National Grid and Northeast Utilities terminated their contracts to buy power from Cape Wind, it was unclear whether the developer would ever break ground.
Even Governor Deval Patrick, a longtime proponent of the project, was unsure whether Cape Wind would produce a single kilowatt of energy. Asked Wednesday whether the project could still survive, Patrick told reporters, “I don’t know.”
The latest setback, which the utilities blamed on Cape Wind’s inability to secure financing, cheered opponents but worried those who see the project as a model to promote other offshore wind farms around the country. The utilities’ withdrawal also raises questions about the future of a $113 million venture in New Bedford to assemble and deploy wind turbines. What was clear Wednesday was that the project, already subject to years of federal and state reviews and onerous legal battles, faces continued litigation.
Officials at Cape Wind did not return calls for comment Wednesday, but they said in a statement that they intend to press on and insisted their contracts with utilities remain in effect.
“We do not regard these . . . terminations as valid,” said Mark Rodgers, a spokesman for Cape Wind. “Despite the fact that there is a contract dispute awaiting resolution, the contracts remain in force. We are determined to bring the benefits of the Cape Wind project to the citizens of Massachusetts, and we will pursue every option available to us to do so.”
The utility companies this week said they were terminating their contracts, which were signed in 2012, because Cape Wind had failed to meet a Dec. 31 deadline to obtain financing, start construction, or put up financial collateral to extend the contract.
Michael Levenson, Jon Chesto, and Travis Andersen of the Globe staff contributed to this report.
Reprinted via the Boston Globe – this news service is not affiliated with the Alliance