Massachusetts Commits to Offshore Wind

By MarEx 2016-08-09 19:59:45

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed a new energy law on Monday designed to boost the U.S. offshore wind industry. The legislation, which was overwhelmingly passed last week by the state legislature, includes the nation’s biggest commitment to offshore wind energy, requiring utilities to procure a combined 1,600 megawatts (MW) of electricity from offshore wind farms in a little over 10 years.

The new law requires companies to solicit bids for proposals with a capacity of at least 400MW megawatts each. The goal is a combined 1,600MW in long-term contracts by June 2027. The mandated renewable energy doesn’t have to come from the state itself. 

No offshore wind farms are operational in Massachusetts waters yet. The proposed Cape Wind project, which calls for the installation of 130 turbines with a combined capacity of 468MW, has so far struggled to overcome regulatory and financial hurdles.  

Several other wind development companies hold leases in Massachusetts waters, including Deepwater Wind, DONG Energy and OffshoreMW.  

The law, An Act Relative to Energy Diversity (H. 4568), promotes Baker’s commitment to reducing energy costs while strengthening the state’s clean energy economy. 

“Massachusetts is always at the forefront of adopting innovative clean energy solutions, and this legislation will allow us to build on that legacy and embrace increased amounts of renewable energy, including hydropower,” said Baker. “With our partners in the Legislature, the Commonwealth has taken another major step towards providing residents and businesses with a cost-effective and reliable clean energy future.”

Advancing Storage Technology

In an effort to enhance ratepayer savings associated with the procurement of renewable energy resources, the bi-partisan legislation authorizes the use of energy storage technologies paired with renewable power generation. Advanced energy storage technologies include batteries, flywheels, thermal and compressed air technologies that allow merchants, utilities, and electricity customers to store and discharge energy as needed instead of purchasing or generating more expensive energy during times of peak demand.  

The legislation also directs the Department of Energy Resources to determine if energy storage goals are prudent for the Commonwealth and, if so, to set a procurement target for 2020. 

“Energy storage technology has the potential to be a game changer for the Massachusetts energy market, further cementing our place as a national clean energy leader” said Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Judith Judson. “By pairing renewable energy resources with energy storage technology, this legislation will allow the Commonwealth to lower energy costs for ratepayers, shave our peak demand energy usage, and reduce our state’s carbon emissions.”

East Coast Action

Multiple projects have been proposed up and down the East Coast, but none are operational yet. In Rhode Island, wind energy development company Deepwater Wind is building a 30MW offshore wind farm, the first to operate in U.S. waters. Deepwater Wind also has interests in New York where it has proposed a 90MW wind farm off the coast of Long Island. 

New York’s Public Service Commission voted Monday to approve the state’s Clean Energy Standard. The plan would require 50 percent of New York’s electricity to come from renewable sources by the year 2030. The Deepwater Wind project, if approved, would play a major role in achieving that goal.