Vineyard Wind adds utility partner

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Vineyard Wind, one of three companies vying for Massachusetts’ first offshore wind contract, has sold a 50 percent stake in the company to Avangrid Renewables.

The announcement Tuesday makes Vineyard Wind the second of the three to partner with a utility company in hopes of strengthening its bid. That’s exactly what Vineyard Wind had in mind, according to Lars Thaaning Pedersen, co-CEO of Copenhagen Offshore Partners.

“We believe we will be able to deliver a more competitive proposal,” he said in an interview. Copenhagen Offshore Partners is the wind development company of Vineyard Wind’s Denmark-based owner, Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, or CIP.

Last year, one of the other companies looking to built wind turbines off the coast of Massachusetts, DONG Energy, sold a 50 percent ownership stake in its project to New England utility company Eversource. That project is called Bay State Wind.

Pedersen said the relationship with Avangrid Renewables adds expertise in both finance and renewable energy. Such partnerships are common for CIP, he said.

Avangrid Renewables is a subsidiary of Avangrid, an electricity, natural gas, and wind company with operations in 27 U.S. states.

Erich Stephens, chief executive officer of Vineyard Wind, said Avangrid is one of the top three wind developers by megawatts in the United States, albeit on land, not offshore.

“There’s still a lot of crossover,” he said.

Avangrid, in turn, is part of Spain-based Iberdrola, which is behind the 102-turbine East Anglia ONE in the North Sea, scheduled to begin operating in 2020.

Vineyard Wind will continue its relationship with Vineyard Power, a nonprofit group of about 5,000 Martha’s Vineyard residents, Stephens said. That partnership with local people is part of what made the project attractive to Avangrid, he said. It also allowed the company to get a discount on its federal lease of an offshore development area.

The third company looking for an offshore wind contract, Deepwater Wind, has not announced a utility partnership. Reached by e-mail Tuesday, spokeswoman Meaghan Wims declined to comment.

The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources and three utility companies — Eversource, National Grid, and Unitil — are going out to bid for at least 400 megawatts of offshore wind power. A draft of the request for proposals came out in late April and was revised May 5. The final RFP is due out June 30.

The Novus Group