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article imageCompetition for offshore wind ramps up in Massachusetts

By Karen Graham     Jun 11, 2017 in Business
Massachusetts appears to be on track to become the nation's leader in offshore wind power, with three companies, including two from Denmark and one based in New England prepared to bid on the contracts.
The state's three utilities, National Grid, Eversource, and Unitil, are expected to release by June 30 the requirements for projects seeking to develop the state's first offshore wind farm, according to the Associated Press.
A law passed last year to boost the state's renewable energy portfolio directed the state's utilities to acquire 1,600 MW of offshore wind by 2027, with the first 400 MW solicitation due by the end of June 2017. A key element of the law is having enough energy generated by offshore wind by 2027 to provide electrical power to 750,000 homes annually,
To date, there is only one offshore wind farm operating in the United States, Deepwater Energy's Block Island wind farm offshore in Rhode Island that went online on December 13, 2016. The five massive wind turbines are 3.8 miles off the coast of Block Island and provide power to the 17,000 homes on the island.
A beautiful sight off the coast of Block Island  Rhode Island.
A beautiful sight off the coast of Block Island, Rhode Island.
Deepwater Wind
Three companies have shown interest in bidding on the contracts, Deepwater Wind, DONG Energy and Vineyard Wind, both based out of Denmark. All three of the companies have already secured federal leases to develop wind energy off Massachusetts' Martha's Vineyard.
According to Utility Dive, rather than each company developing its own one-off project, the news is saying the three companies want to develop a new clean energy sector.
The biggest questions to be answered among the bidders focus on the size and timing. Size matters to Dong Energy. Dong argues that projects larger than 400 MW, say, 800 MW provide “efficiencies of scale” that lead to lower electricity costs for the consumer.
Vineyard Wind is more inclined to see multiple 400 MW projects, while Deepwater Wind has argued for a range of projects and varying sizes. “We think a more gradual approach makes the most sense,” said Jeffrey Grybowski, Deepwater Wind’s CEO. “You need to walk before you run.”
Dong Energy
The non-profit environmental advocacy group, The Conservation Law Foundation, wants to see the process stepped up, saying this would allow for construction to begin next summer with the wind farm being operational by 2023. And Vineyard Wind's CEO, Erich Stephens is concerned that a prolonged process could make it harder for firms to maximize their benefit from federal investment tax credits.
However fast or slow the process goes, one thing all the actors agree on - They aren't concerned about President Trump's renewable energy policies for now. State's play a big role in regulating energy policy because they regulate utilities. and Massachusetts’ Republican Governor Charlie Baker has already reaffirmed the state's commitment to pursue clean energy goals, despite our withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord.
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