What a slow death it has been for the state’s first proposed offshore wind farm. But now, its proponents finally are pulling the plug.
While others in the energy industry had considered the $2.5 billion Cape Wind project dead, developer Jim Gordon wasn’t ready to quit.
The first devastating blow for the ambitious offshore installation for Nantucket Sound came in early 2015, when National Grid and Northeast Utilities — which had agreed to buy electricity from Cape Wind — canceled their contracts with the developer. The utilities said Cape Wind had missed a deadline to extend the contracts.
Under a 2012 agreement, Northeast Utilities and NStar (now combined as Eversource) agreed to buy 27.5 percent of Cape Wind’s production, while National Grid had previously signed on to purchase 50 percent. Without those commitments, Gordon was unable to secure the financing he needed.
Last year, state regulators yanked permission for a power line connection, further reducing the already slim prospects of the project moving forward. Later in 2016, Cape Wind foes successfully lobbied lawmakers on Beacon Hill to prevent its backers from benefitting from a major energy bill that requires utilities to buy large amounts of offshore wind. Gordon needed that mandate to ensure he’d have buyers for the power Cape Wind generated.
Still, he soldiered on, even renewing the Cape Wind lease rights with the federal government earlier this year.
But this week Gordon officially conceded defeat, filing a notice with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management that rescinded the firm’s Nantucket Sound lease rights. Gordon issued a brief statement, taking credit for sparking the discussion about offshore wind here. He also took a jab at his opponents, in part for the significant funding they get from wealthy Cape homeowners. Their repeated legal challenges likely played a key role in the project’s demise.Jon Chesto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.