QUINCY – We’re not Cape Wind.
That’s part of the message that an offshore-wind power advocacy group is taking across the state, in an effort to become what the group’s director calls “a part of the conversation” about Massachusetts’ energy future.
“Cape Wind is what most people’s idea of what offshore wind is, and this is different,” Matthew Morrissey of OffShore Wind Massachusetts said Monday during a Patriot Ledger editorial board interview.
He was referring to the state’s first wind farm project, planned for Nantucket Sound off Cape Cod. The venture faltered in January when National Grid and Eversource – then NStar – canceled power purchase agreements.
OffShore Wind includes three companies that want to install turbines in ocean tracts farther off Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, as well as the Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation and eight other supporting groups.
Morrissey said the Massachusetts Audubon Society is also “fully behind” OffShore Wind.
The three wind power firms are Denmark-based Dong Energy, OffshoreMW and Deepwater Wind, which is now building the nation’s first wind farm off Rhode Island’s Block Island. Dong Energy is Europe’s biggest wind farm builder.
All said their ventures will produce much cheaper power than Cape Wind promised.
OffshoreMW and Deepwater won leases for a combined 351,000 acres – 55 square miles – in a January federal auction.
The tracts are in the Massachusetts Wind Energy Area, 12 miles south of the Vineyard – “far enough away so you can hardly see the turbines,” Morrissey said.
He and executives from the three companies didn’t criticize Cape Wind’s effort. But they said their ventures will start from a more acceptable site, with much-improved turbine technology, and in a more economically and politically promising climate.
Morrissey, a former New Bedford economic adviser, said state officials and the utilities are freshly studying the mix of power sources at a time when a coal-powered Fall River plant will close in 2017 and Plymouth’s Pilgrim nuclear plant could be shut down too.
OffShore Wind is supporting a bill by Rep. Patricia Haddad, D-Somerset. Her bill would help shape state energy policy – and, among other things, require the big utilities to accept bids from offshore and other renewable energy sources.
The bill has been stuck in the Legislature’s joint technology, utilities and energy committee since January. If and when it’s passed and signed by Gov. Charlie Baker, Morrissey said “things will happen quickly.”
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