BOSTON – The race is on between major clean energy developers hoping to score long-term, wholesale power contracts with Massachusetts electric utilities.
By Thursday’s noon deadline, thick packets were delivered to the state’s Department of Energy Resources by at least five partnerships proposing massive, utility-scale renewable energy projects to serve customers in the Bay State.
The Massachusetts Clean Energy RFP, or request for proposals, was drafted last year in response to Gov. Charlie Baker’s 2016 energy bill. The bill requires that the utilities procure around 9,450,000 megawatt-hours of wind, solar, hydro or energy storage – so-called “Class I renewables” – to meet the state’s clean energy goals.
National Grid, Eversource and Unitil collectively requested proposals in March. After a competitive evaluation process, the winners will gain 20-year contracts to supply power, transmission, or clean power credits to serve the state’s utilities and ratepayers.
Five partnerships made public announcements Thursday, and described their plans.
* Central Maine Power and Avangrid, its corporate parent, submitted two transmission proposals.
New England Clean Energy Connect would carry power from Hydro-Quebec dams to the New England grid. The high-voltage, 1,200-megawatt transmission line would run 145 miles from the Canadian border to a substation in Lewiston, Maine.
The Maine Clean Power Connection would run 140 miles from far western Maine – where NextEra Energy Resources plans wind and solar facilities – also to a connector in Lewiston. The transmission line’s top capacity would be 1,100 megawatts, and the plan contains a possible battery storage component.
The Maine utility is touting its short route between Quebec and New England markets, and says it already owns the rights-of-way needed to build or expand the proposed power lines.
“Central Maine Power and Avangrid have the proven experience and resources to deliver large-scale projects on-time and on-budget in New England,” said Central Maine Power CEO Sarah Burns.
* National Grid and the nonprofit Citizens Energy submitted two transmission proposals linked with wind and solar projects under development in Canada and New York.
The Granite State Power Link would travel 59 miles from a converter station in northern Vermont to one in Monroe, New Hampshire, and deliver 1,200 megawatts of wind power from Quebec. It would upgrade 109 miles of existing alternating current lines into Londonderry, New Hampshire.
The Northeast Renewable Link would deliver up to 600 megawatts of new wind, solar and small hydro in New York through a 23-mile, alternating current line from a National Grid substation to an Eversource substation in the Berkshire County town of Hinsdale.
The wind and solar projects are being developed by Avangrid, and the small hydro dams in New York are owned by Brookfield Renewables.
“Citizens Energy is proud to work with National Grid on green transmission lines to power our economy with clean renewable energy,” said Citizens Energy chairman Joseph P. Kennedy II.
* TDI New England submitted two proposals for its proposed New England Clean Power Link, which would travel beneath Lake Champlain.
One plan would deliver 1,000 megawatts from Hydro-Quebec, and the other would transport 700 megawatts of Canadian hydro combined with 300 megawatts of wind power from facilities in New York and Canada planned by Gaz Metro and Boralex.
That transmission line has all of its state and federal permits in hand, and its developers gained cooperation from environmental groups. A high-voltage cable would travel 98 miles underwater and 56 miles underground to deliver 1,000 megawatts from the Canadian border to a transformer in Ludlow, Vermont.
* Emera, Inc. proposed its wholly owned Atlantic Link project.
The 900-megawatt cable would travel 370 miles under the ocean from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and tie into the grid near the Pilgrim Nuclear Station in Plymouth, which is scheduled to retire in mid-2019. The Atlantic Link would deliver wind and hydro from Canada.
* Last but not least, Eversource submitted two bids for its proposed 192-mile Northern Pass transmission line, which would travel from the Canadian border through the heart of New Hampshire.
One plan would deliver 1,090 megawatts from Hydro-Quebec, and the other would transport a combination of Canadian hydro and power from wind facilities under development by Gaz Metro and Boralex.
The coveted long-term Massachusetts contracts are designed to help finance the development of new, utility-scale renewables and the transmission lines needed to bring that power to southern New England consumers.
Each partnership that bid on Thursday said their plans would bring significant long-term savings to consumers, because once the facilities are built, there are no fuel costs to generate power.
Existing hydro dams and wind farms in New England were not eligible to bid this time because the projects must bring new resources to the six-state power grid, run by ISO New England.
Public versions of the bids will be posted online with confidential information redacted, officials said Thursday. According to a schedule, projects will be chosen by Jan. 25, negotiations completed by March 27 and contracts sent to utility regulators for review by April 25.
The bids will be evaluated for their potential to help the state meet its emission reduction goals, for their value to consumers, and other criteria. The state has committed to reducing its carbon emissions to forestall the effects of climate change.
“The responses to this clean energy solicitation mark an important next step in meeting the objectives of the bipartisan comprehensive energy diversification legislation signed by Governor Baker last August, and will be carefully reviewed to ensure that all the energy procured is in the best interest of the commonwealth and its ratepayers,” said Kevin O’Shea, a spokesman for the state’s Department of Energy Resources.
In a separate bid process, Massachusetts utilities this year solicited 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind power. Three developers are now competing for those contracts.
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