Vineyard Wind would put 100 turbines off Mass. coast

Source: Saqib Rahim, E&E News reporter • Posted: Friday, May 25, 2018

Massachusetts has selected an 800-megawatt project as the state’s debut in offshore wind, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced yesterday.

The installation, called Vineyard Wind, would place about 100 turbines — or fewer, if the technology advances — starting 14 miles off Martha’s Vineyard. It’s the first project selected under an offshore wind procurement set up by the Baker administration, but it’s also the largest single offshore wind project ever approved by any state.

Vineyard Wind, a joint proposal of Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Avangrid Inc., isn’t final yet. The developers still need to sign a contract with utilities and pass muster with the state’s utility regulators.

Until that process is complete, a state official said yesterday, a cost estimate won’t be publicly available.

“The procurement of 800 MW of offshore wind energy will significantly help the Commonwealth transition to a diversified energy portfolio and achieve the emissions reductions targets set forth by the Global Warming Solutions Act,” Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton said in a statement.

The project marks the most advanced attempt to prove what Northeastern governors have been saying: that offshore wind, while expensive, can still be worth building if it’s scrutinized through a state-led process.

In a parallel announcement, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) announced the state’s selection of a 400-MW offshore wind project called Revolution Wind. The project, also located off Martha’s Vineyard, is being developed by Deepwater Wind. It was selected through a competitive solicitation held jointly with Massachusetts.

Massachusetts’ model, in particular, has focused on cost. When Baker signed energy legislation in 2016, the bill included language that directed the state to hold competitive solicitations for 1,600 MW of offshore wind.

The bill also required that with each successive project, costs needed to fall — a claim considered to have been made credible by Europe, where policymakers have set up ruthless competitions between offshore wind companies (Energywire, Dec. 15, 2016).

Last summer, Massachusetts announced a solicitation for the first tranche of projects, 400 to 800 MW per year. A joint team of regulators and utilities received a range of proposals, from 200 to 800 MW, but concluded that Vineyard Wind delivered the best bang for the buck, including job impacts.

Vineyard was the lowest-priced bid, the administration said, but it was also close enough to construction that it could cash in on federal tax credits before their 2020 phaseout.

The state estimates the project, once operational, would provide 5 to 6 percent of the power used in Massachusetts each year.

This isn’t the Bay State’s first foray into offshore wind. Another proposed project off Martha’s Vineyard, Cape Wind, was canceled by its developer last year after it generated more than a decade of fights in the state.