Massachusetts pushing ahead with plans for another 1,600MW of offshore wind capacity

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享CommonWealth Magazine:The Baker Administration is pushing ahead with plans to double the procurement of offshore wind power over the next several years, a move that will increase wind’s share of the state’s energy portfolio to 30 percent while locking Massachusetts into long-term contracts for nearly two thirds of its electricity.The announcement was another sign of just how bullish the state is on offshore wind, but it also highlighted some of the risks involved in negotiating 20-year contracts directly with electricity suppliers instead of relying on the region’s competitive wholesale electricity market. Right now, offshore wind appears to be a great fit in terms of price and environmental benefits. But if new technologies emerge in the near future driving down the price of solar or other emerging renewables, ratepayers could be stuck paying above-market prices for their power.Legislation approved on Beacon Hill in 2016 authorized the state’s utilities, acting on behalf of their ratepayers, to negotiate contracts for 1,600 megawatts of electricity. The first contract for 800 megawatts was awarded to Vineyard Wind last year and another 800-megawatt procurement is expected to be awarded by the end of this year. Under legislation approved last year, the state Department of Energy Resources was required to analyze the market for offshore wind and decide whether it made sense to double-down and procure another 1,600 megawatts.The report released on Friday concludes it makes sense to do procurements for the additional 1,600 megawatts in 2022, 2024, and again in 2026 if necessary. The report also recommends conducting a solicitation in 2020 to see if it would make sense to construct an independently built transmission line that would serve all of the new wind farms. Until now, wind farm operators have preferred to build their own individual transmission lines to shore, but state officials think there may be environmental benefits from minimizing the number of transmission lines as the industry expands.The state report portrays offshore wind as a very good deal for the state, providing renewable power at an attractive price point. The report said offshore wind farms, on an annual basis, operate at 50 percent of their capacity (meaning they generate half the electricity they are capable of generating because the wind isn’t always blowing ) and tend to reliably generate power during the winter months when natural gas for power plants can sometimes be in short supply.A chart in the report noted the Vineyard Wind contract price was 6.5 cents per kilowatt hour in 2017 dollars, slightly higher than the price of Quebec hydroelectricity being purchased in a separate procurement and double the price of electricity produced with natural gas. The offshore wind price was half the price of the state’s least-subsidized solar power option. The report estimated the contracts for an additional 1,600 megawatts of electricity will save the state’s ratepayers between $670 million and $1.27 billion over the life of the 20-year contracts.More: Mass. to double offshore wind procurements Massachusetts pushing ahead with plans for another 1,600MW of offshore wind capacitylast_img

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