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NEW BEDFORD – Massachusetts’ first offshore wind contract should be finalized in July of 2018, three months earlier than originally planned.
Three electricity companies issued their final request for proposals Thursday in conjunction with the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources. The RFP sets a shorter timeline and calls for proposals of 400 megawatts of energy generation. It also allows bidders to submit supplementary proposals of 200 to 800 megawatts.
The timeline is good news for developers, because it lets them start work during the 2018 construction season.
“We were pushing for that,” said Erich Stephens, chief executive officer of Vineyard Wind, one of three potential bidders. “We really want to get to work as soon as we can.”
Vineyard Wind, which is owned by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners of Denmark, hosted a ribbon cutting and reception Thursday for its New Bedford office, in the Bank of America building on Pleasant Street. Two other companies also hold federal leases for offshore wind power off Massachusetts: Rhode Island-based Deepwater Wind, which opened a New Bedford office in February, and DONG Energy of Denmark, which has an office in Boston.
The final RFP calls for one or more winning bidders to be identified by April 23.
A landmark state law signed last summer requires electricity distribution companies – Eversource, National Grid, and Unitil – to buy long-term contracts for at least 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind power in the next decade. That’s enough to power hundreds of thousands of homes.
The potential for a contract of up to 800 megawatts is something that DONG Energy requested. The others asked for a lower ceiling.
The RFP says the utilities are looking for 400 megawatts but could consider up to 800 if a larger project is superior and produces more economic benefits for ratepayers.
In a written statement, DONG Energy’s North America president, Thomas Brostrøm, said the company believes a project generating 400 to 800 megawatts will produce the lowest cost of electricity.
Deepwater Wind CEO Jeff Grybowski issued a written statement that read in part: “We’re confident we can deliver clean energy at the right size and the right price for Massachusetts ratepayers, and at the same time put people to work right here in the commonwealth.”
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