Orsted A/S shares dropped to a six-year low after New York regulators rejected a cost adjustment for offshore wind farms, prompting investor fears about a further writedown for one of the company’s US projects.
(Bloomberg) — Orsted A/S shares dropped to a six-year low after New York regulators rejected a cost adjustment for offshore wind farms, prompting investor fears about a further writedown for one of the company’s US projects.
The New York Public Service Commission unanimously decided Thursday that developers must abide by the terms of existing contracts for projects, including Orsted’s Sunrise Wind, an 880-megawatt wind farm it’s developing with Eversource Energy. Offshore wind developers are being hit by the rising costs of materials, higher interest rates and inflation.
Orsted already warned of impairments of as much as 16 billion Danish kroner ($2.3 billion) to its US portfolio in August. The New York ruling deals another blow to the Sunrise Wind project, which was already being held up by supplier delays. The adjustments sought by Orsted, Equinor ASA and others would have burdened consumers with as much as $12 billion in added costs.
Orsted may have to decide whether to write down the wind farm even more and keep building, or walk away and pay termination fees, according to a Citigroup Inc. analyst.
“This will be a tough choice for Orsted, having to choose between the lesser of two evils,” Citigroup’s Jenny Ping wrote in a note. She estimated cancellation fees for this project alone would be about $215 million.
Orsted declined 9.4% in Copenhagen to its lowest price since September 2017. Its shares are down 48% year-to-date.
Read More: New York Rejects Offshore Wind Requests for Higher Rates
Chief Executive Officer Mads Nipper said in September the company was prepared to walk away from US projects without further support. It’s in talks with the White House to secure further subsidies from the Inflation Reduction Act to support its Sunrise Wind, Ocean Wind 1 and Revolution Wind developments.
Orsted is “paying the price for the strategic decision” of early spending in the US in the first wave of offshore wind developments there, JPMorgan Chase & Co. analysts, including Javier Garrido, wrote in a note, adding such struggles aren’t necessarily mirrored by industry peers.
Orsted’s chief executive officer for the Americas, David Hardy, said the company was “disappointed” in the PSC’s decision.
“We are reviewing the PSC’s order, but Sunrise Wind’s viability and therefore ability to be constructed are extremely challenged without this adjustment,” he said in an emailed statement.
Clean-energy stock valuations are facing pressure lately. A Goldman Sachs Group Inc. renewables basket that includes Orsted, Vestas Wind Systems AS and Portugal’s EDP SA is trading at a 28% discount to the MSCI Europe Growth Index, based on forward earnings.
(Updates throughout with closing price.)
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