Clock ticking, Avangrid finds itself isolated

Little support for its bid to renegotiate wind power contract

AVANGRID, the state’s leading wind farm developer, suddenly finds itself facing both economic — and political — headwinds.

Avangrid told state regulators its 1,200-megawatt Commonwealth Wind project could not get built without a “very modest increase” in the price the company would get paid for the electricity. Avangrid blamed the war in Ukraine, rising interest rates, inflation, and supply chain difficulties for the need to renegotiate its contract, which was coming up for final approval.

The state’s other major wind farm developer, Mayflower Wind, indicated less forcefully that it, too, could use some price relief.

But the Department of Public Utilities was not having it. The agency issued an order Friday evening rejecting Avangrid’s bid for a one-month delay in the contract approval process to allow time to make some changes.

The DPU also gave Avangrid and Mayflower Wind three days to say whether they were moving ahead with their existing contracts or withdrawing from the process.

Mayflower backed down on Monday, saying it would honor the terms of its existing contract. Commonwealth Wind initially said it planned to present a proposal to “return the project to economic viability,” but it’s unclear who would listen. The company finds itself increasingly isolated.

Attorney General Maura Healey’s office, which represents electricity ratepayers, showed no interest in reopening the contracting process.

“Offshore wind projects like these are critical for our state’s economy and for our clean energy future,” said Healey spokeswoman Chloe Gotsis. “Our office continues to support moving forward with these projects and we urge the Department of Public Utilities to approve the contracts.”

Rep. Jeffrey Roy of Franklin, the House chair of the Legislature’s Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy Committee, also urged Commonwealth Wind to rethink its position.

“I believe there are avenues available under the federal Inflation Reduction Act and Massachusetts’ own Clean Energy and Offshore Wind bill that can help Commonwealth Wind mitigate the impacts of the recent global commodity price increases and proceed with the project,” Roy said in a statement. “In that regard, I urge them to closely examine the legislation, look at all potential cost-saving measures, tax incentives, improvements to project efficiencies, and other potential sources that will allow the project to advance in an expeditious, transparent, and successful manner. I am encouraged that Commonwealth Wind remains committed to the project and believe that it can and should proceed as intended by the parties.”