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Cape Wind lease on New Bedford docks canceled

Despite attempts by the developers of Cape Wind to save the project, another component of the planned offshore wind farm has fallen through.

The quasi-public Massachusetts Clean Energy Center said Monday that the agency and Cape Wind “mutually agreed” to end Cape Wind’s lease of 28 acres of heavy-duty waterfront industrial space in New Bedford. The $4.5 million lease was supposed to run through the end of 2016.

The lease termination comes several months after National Grid and Eversource Energy said they were pulling out of electricity purchase contracts because the renewable energy developer didn’t meet a January 1 financing deadline. The utilities were supposed to buy the vast majority of the electricity generated by the 130-turbine wind farm at an above-market rate.

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“As part of a process that began in April 2014, MassCEC is seeking a professional terminal operator to manage and maximize economic activity at the facility,” said a spokeswoman for the Clean Energy Center. “This termination will provide clarity to the prospective operators regarding Cape Wind’s near-term use of the terminal.”

At a Saturday rally on the Boston Common, Cape Wind president Jim Gordon said his company was still negotiating with the utilities to salvage the development. He said “relentless litigation” by opponents of the project posed an unusual challenge and should be taken into consideration by the electric companies.

“We are not giving up,” Gordon said at the Saturday rally. “We have just begun to fight.”

The Globe reported in September that the state spent $100 million to dredge, engineer, and clean up New Bedford’s harbor with hopes that it would be used as a staging area for other offshore wind developments. Now, it’s unclear whether Cape Wind will ever return to the area, although MassCEC said it would be willing to renegotiate a lease if the developer were to resolve its financing issues.

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Jack Newsham can be reached at jack.newsham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheNewsHam.