Clock ticking, Avangrid finds itself isolated

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.”

BRUCE MOHL

 

NEW STORIES FROM COMMONWEALTH MAGAZINE

Wind change: The Department of Public Utilities rejected a bid by Commonwealth Wind (and to some extent Mayflower Wind) to renegotiate the price they would receive for electricity from their proposed wind farms. Commonwealth Wind said it needed a higher price to make its project viable in the face of interest rate increases, inflation, and supply chain problems. Read more. Mayflower quickly said it would stick with its original price. Read more.

Food benefit protection: The Massachusetts Law Reform Institute filed suit seeking to give recipients of food benefits the same anti-theft protection with their electronic benefit cards as credit card holders do with theirs. Read more.

Low turnout: Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin predicts low voter turnout today in a low-intensity election where ballot questions are stirring more interest than the candidates themselves. Read more.

OPINION

Putting Allston back together: A partnership of sorts between the state, the city, nonprofits, businesses, and Harvard University is working to undo the division caused by the Massachusetts Turnpike and reunite Allston. The second in a series by former state transportation secretary Fred Salvucci and Anthony D’Isidoro, the president of the Allston Civic Association. Read more.

Yes on 1: Kim Janey, the president and CEO of Economic Mobility Pathways, says the millionaire tax (Question 1) could address decades of systemic inequities. Read more.

 

STORIES FROM ELSEWHERE AROUND THE WEB                    

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu signs into law a redistricting map that rewrites the boundaries of City Council districts. (GBH)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Three Walgreens outlets are closing in predominantly Black and Hispanic Boston neighborhoods, leaving residents and local leaders worried about access to prescription drugs. (Boston Globe)

ELECTIONS

Questions 1 and 4 on the ballot are generating the most spending. The Telegram & Gazette looks at who’s spending for and against each ballot question.

Washington Post columnist and political analyst Henry Olsen lays out midterm predictions that have Republicans scoring big, winning back the House and Senate, including close races in New Hampshire and Arizona.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

MIT Technology Review finds that Twitter has lost more than 1 million accounts since Elon Musk took over, some by people deactivating accounts and others through Twitter suspending accounts.

EDUCATION

A letter signed by 15 former principals and school leaders prompts an investigation into allegations of discrimination against leader of color in the Boston Public Schools. (WBUR)

“Grace” Jinliu Wang, an administrator at Ohio State University, will become the 17th president of Worcester Polytechnic Institute. (Telegram & Gazette)

New Bedford and Fall River are among five Massachusetts school districts getting federal money to buy electric-powered school buses. (Standard-Times)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

The Justice Department’s inspector general is opening an investigation into US Attorney Rachael Rollins’s appearance at a Democratic fundraiser with first lady Jill Biden. The office is also reportedly looking at her use of a personal cellphone to conduct official business and a trip she took to California that was paid for by an outside group. (Associated Press)

Boston Police Commissioner Michael Cox said the department will increase its presence in neighborhoods hardest hit by gun violence after six people were shot, one fatally, in three separate incidents that unfolded within an hour on Sunday night. (Boston Herald)

Kelsie Cote is charged in the death of her 74-year-old grandmother in North Adams. The motive is unclear, but it could have been financial. (Berkshire Eagle)