NEW BEDFORD – A New Bedford–based offshore wind proposal by Deepwater Wind has been passed over for a state contract in favor of hydroelectric power from Canada.
Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration announced Thursday that Northern Pass Hydro, a joint venture of Eversource and Hydro-Québec, has been selected to provide power to Massachusetts in the first of two competitive bidding processes created by the state’s 2016 energy diversity law.
Deepwater Wind, headquartered in Providence, remains confident in its chances for the second contract, Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Grybowski said.
“We know that we opened a lot of people’s minds to the idea that offshore wind can be a real competitor, even against traditional power plants like hydro,” he said in a written statement.
The selection process that concluded Thursday, under Section 83D of the law, gave preference to combinations of hydroelectric power with another energy source. It drew 46 bids.
Paul Vigeant, managing director of the New Bedford Wind Energy Center, said he was disappointed Deepwater Wind was not selected.
“They’re a solid company, they’re an American company, and they’ve got a great project,” he said.
Northern Pass Hydro will provide about 9.5 million megawatt-hours of clean energy each year, part of Massachusetts’ commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent of 1990 baseline emissions in 2020, and 80 percent in 2050. Those goals were codified in a 2008 state law, the Global Warming Solutions Act.
Hydropower and the dams and reservoirs it requires have spurred criticism from some environmental groups, including the Massachusetts chapter of the Sierra Club.
“By choosing Canadian hydro, we will be shipping more of our energy dollars out of the country to purchase destructive Canadian hydro,” chapter director Emily Norton said in statement. “Not only will we be contributing to ecological destruction on a massive scale, we will be furthering the exploitation of the indigenous people of Canada.”
Baker called the move a step toward a future of reliable clean energy.
“Today’s announcement is an important step forward for more competitive clean energy pricing in Massachusetts, which will benefit families, businesses and our environment,” he said in a press release.
The state’s three electricity distribution companies – Eversource, National Grid and Unitil – chose Northern Pass Hydro following evaluation of the bids by a public-private team. Eversource was both a bidder and a solicitor. An independent consultant was hired to oversee the process.
Deepwater Wind’s chances are more favorable for the second award, under Section 83C, which is specific to offshore wind and has only three bidders. Deepwater’s project, dubbed Revolution Wind, is competing with Bay State Wind and Vineyard Wind. One or more winners are scheduled to be announced April 23.
Section 83C has drawn particular attention on the SouthCoast because all of the bidders have pledged to use the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal. The turbines would be built in leased federal waters starting 12 to 14 miles off Martha’s Vineyard.
New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell said the city’s primary focus is on that process.
“All three bidders for that procurement have announced their intention to stage their wind projects from the Port of New Bedford, so we are approaching a major milestone in the City’s efforts to establish itself as a national leader in offshore wind, just as we already are in commercial fishing,” he said in a statement.
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