Avangrid CEO mentions default on wind farm deal

Company previously said it would not honor contract terms

THE CEO of Avangrid told financial analysts on Wednesday that his company has defaulted on a provision in its offshore wind power purchase agreement with three Massachusetts utilities.

It’s not clear what provision was defaulted (company officials declined comment), but the existence of some sort of default is not all that surprising given Avangrid’s decision not to honor the agreement it negotiated last year with Eversource, National Grid, and Unitil.

Avangrid said rapidly changing economic conditions had made the existing agreement no longer sufficient to finance the wind farm, and asked that the contract be scrapped. The company also filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn a December 30 decision by the Department of Public Utilities approving the contract, and since then has been talking with state officials about other options that would not involve a court fight.

Pedro Azagra, the CEO of Avangrid, said little about those negotiations on Wednesday, but mentioned that the company had already defaulted on at least one contract term.

“In the case of Massachusetts, we’ve already defaulted in one of the steps the contract had,’’ Azagra said.

A spokesman for Eversource did not respond to a request for clarification on the default.

Azagra also offered a few comments on the company’s other big energy projects in New England.

He indicated Vineyard Wind, the country’s first industrial-scale wind farm, is on track to start generating some electricity this year and said the first monopile for a wind turbine should be installed sometime in the next two months.

Avangrid’s other big energy project in New England is a Massachusetts-financed transmission line to carry hydroelectricity from Quebec into Maine and from there into the New England power grid.

Avangrid spent $450 million on the project, 43 percent of the estimated $1 billion cost, before Maine voters in 2021 passed a law that retroactively shut the project down. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court in August ruled that part of the voter-approved law was unconstitutional, and a lower court jury ruled April 20 that the project could move forward.

Azagra and his aides on Wednesday suggested they probably wouldn’t know when construction will resume on the power line until mid-year.