Mass. DPU OKs long-term contracts for offshore wind

The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities recently issued an order approving long-term contracts for 800 megawatts of offshore wind between Vineyard Wind and state investor-owned electric utilities.

Vineyard Wind’s bid was selected for contract negotiation in May 2018 based on criteria established under a request for proposal submitted to the DPU for review and approval on July 31, 2018.

Criteria used in the evaluation of the bids included an economic evaluation of the benefits for ratepayers, the project’s ability to foster employment and economic development in the Commonwealth, and the project’s environmental impacts and the extent to which a project demonstrates that it avoids or mitigates impacts to natural resources and tourism.

Vineyard Wind was determined to provide the greatest overall value to Massachusetts customers by delivering approximately 800 MW of offshore wind capacity per year while providing substantial ratepayer benefits. 

The DPU’s April 12 order approved the selection and found that these contracts are cost-effective as well as in the public interest.

Petitions filed in summer 2018

Last summer, Eversource Energy, Massachusetts Electric Company and Nantucket Electric Company, and Fitchburg Gas and Electric Light Company each filed a petition with the DPU for approval of two long-term contracts to purchase offshore wind energy generation and associated renewable energy certificates.

The companies solicited bids for up to 1,600 MW of offshore wind energy generation.  As a result of this solicitation process, the companies each sought DPU approval of two power purchase agreements for energy and associated RECs from the Vineyard Wind 800-MW offshore wind energy generation project. The project features two separate 400 MW phases, both located on the Outer Continental Shelf.

Vineyard Wind has committed in the contracts to contribute $15 million to a fund that will invest in projects designed to promote the use of battery storage in low-income communities and support the Commonwealth’s goal to further the development of energy storage systems across the state. 

Meanwhile, in late March, the utilities submitted their second RFP to the DPU for up to 800 MW of additional offshore wind.  

In August 2016, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law legislation requiring utilities to competitively solicit and contract for approximately 1,600 MW of offshore wind and approximately 1,200 MW of clean energy.

Other states also pursuing offshore wind

Other states are also pursuing offshore wind.

Connecticut last summer selected 200 MW of offshore wind under a state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection request for proposals for clean energy.

The offshore wind from Deepwater Wind’s Revolution Wind Project will be incremental to the 400 MW from the same project selected by Rhode Island last year.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo in May 2018 said that the state had selected Deepwater Wind to construct a new, 400-MW offshore wind farm.

NYPA to lead offshore wind study; LIPA will also have role

A memorandum of understanding was signed in 2018 by New York power agencies and partners to conduct a study of successful offshore wind transmission models, with a specific focus on large-scale European projects.

The New York Power Authority will lead the study and a number of parties, including the Long Island Power Authority, will collaborate with NYPA on the initial phase of the research.

Earlier this year, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the New York State Offshore Wind Master Plan, which will guide the state in the development of 2,400 MW of offshore wind by 2030.