Avangrid (Iberdrola) gets 50 percent stake in Atlantic wind farm project

A subsidiary of Avangrid has acquired an ownership stake in a company competing to develop wind farms off Martha’s Vineyard.

Avangrid Renewables has purchased a 50 percent stake in Vineyard Wind, which is seeking to develop a wind farm in the Atlantic Ocean, about 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard. A Danish company, Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, owns the other 50 percent of the Vineyard Wind project.

Avangrid is an Orange-based holding company that oversees all of the U.S. energy companies owned by Spanish utility giant Iberdrola. James Torgerson, Avangrid’s chief executive officer, said the ownership stake in Vineyard Wind — combined with the company’s victory in the first offshore wind lease auction in the United States off the coast of North Carolina — shows that it is “well positioned to grow this sector.”

“Our equal partnership in this effort demonstrates the strong commitment we’ve made to execute our growth strategy and expand our wind portfolio,” Torgerson said in a statement.

Michael West, an Avangrid spokesman, said the Vineyard Wind deal will have not direct impact on what customers of the company’s United Illuminating Co. subsidiary here in Connecticut pay for their electricity.

“What it does is bolster the strategic position of Avangrid,” West said.

The Vineyard Wind partners are competing with two other projects to be selected by the state of Massachusetts to meet that state’s need to increase energy from renewable sources. Deepwater Wind of Rhode Island, DONG Energy of Denmark are the other companies vying for the long-term contracts.

A new Massachusetts law, which was signed by Gov. Charlie Baker last August, requires the state’s three electric utilities — Eversource, National Grid and Unitil — to secure long-term power contracts for up to 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind energy within the next decade. That is enough electricity to power more than 750,000 Massachusetts homes annually.

The deadline for the first of four solicitations to achieve that goal is June 30.

John Lamontagne, a spokesman for Vineyard Wind and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, said adding Avangrid as a partner “adds to the financial firepower of the project.”

“Avangrid is one of the leading developers of wind power in the United States and its corporate parent, Iberdrola, is one of the world’s leading companies in that sector,” Lamontagne said.

If Vineyard Wind is the winner of the first round of solicitations, construction of the wind farm would start in early 2020.

Avangrid Renewables acquisition of the Vineyard Wind ownership stake comes five months after Deepwater Wind opened the nation’s first commercial offshore wind farm off Block Island.