Cape Wind vows to move project forward
Cape Wind, whose plans to build the nation’s first offshore wind farm were thrown into upheaval in January when two utilities terminated contracts to buy the project’s power, is not throwing in the towel, the company’s chief executive said Saturday.
In his first extensive comments to the media since the contracts were canceled, Cape Wind president Jim Gordon vowed to press ahead with the $2.5 billion project slated for Nantucket Sound and restore its agreements with National Grid and Eversource Energy, formerly known as Northeast Utilities.
“We will be contacting them soon to talk with them and see if we can amicably resolve the situation so that this important clean energy project that has been under development for the last 14 years can be built,” Gordon said in an interview.
He spoke at a rally on Boston Common attended by a couple of hundred people and organized by Better Future Project in Cambridge, which advocates for clean energy. Craig S. Altemose, the organization’s executive director, said more than 95,000 people have signed a petition asking Marcy Reed, president of National Grid in Massachusetts, to reconsider its agreement with Cape Wind.
“We are not giving up,” Gordon told the crowd, drawing cheers. “We have just begun to fight.”
The utility companies have said they terminated their contracts because Cape Wind failed to meet a Dec. 31 deadline to obtain financing, start construction, or put up financial collateral to extend the agreements.
In letters dated Dec. 31 to both utilities and state regulators, Gordon asked National Grid and Northeast Utilities, as it was known then, to put off terminating the contracts, citing “extended, unprecedented, and relentless litigation.”
Cape Wind has said the lawsuits triggered a clause in the agreement known as force majeure, which extended deadlines for the project. As a result, the utilities improperly terminated and breached the contracts, Gordon said.
“A force majeure suspends all obligations under the contract,” Gordon said. “We need to sit down with the utilities and work it out.”
Cape Wind’s contract with National Grid provided for the utility to buy 50 percent of Cape Wind’s power. Eversource signed on for 27.5 percent of the energy generated.
Gordon declined to say whether Cape Wind was considering legal action.
“Right now, I’m focused on completing the development and construction of Cape Wind,” he said.
Mike Durand, a spokesman for Eversource, said the company does not have “any planned meetings or updates.” National Grid said in a statement that Cape Wind had an opportunity to extend its contract but declined to do so.
Audra Parker, president and chief executive of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, a leading Cape Wind opponent, said in a telephone interview that the project’s time “has come and gone.”
“They’re in very deep trouble and they’re failing,” she said.
The alliance is mainly funded by Bill Koch, a wealthy Florida businessman and major political donor to conservative causes who has a home in Osterville. Many at the rally blamed him for Cape Wind’s setbacks.
“He cannot be allowed to buy the outcome he wants,” Altemose said.
Charles Morgan, 64, of Brookline, attended the rally. He said he worries for the future.
“I’ll be dead by the time the world crumbles under the weight of wealthy white men supporting fossil fuel, but my children will have to suffer those consequences if we don’t change,” he said.