BOSTON – The three electric distribution companies in Massachusetts have together issued a request for a second round of offshore wind energy, as the winner of the first round – Vineyard Wind – looks to start its project later this year.
Eversource, National Grid and Unitil issued the request for proposals May 23. Initial, confidential responses from offshore wind developers are expected by Aug. 9. The utility companies are seeking contracts running from 15 to 20 years for at least 400 megawatts of offshore wind energy. Proposals from 200 megawatts up to 800 megawatts may be submitted.
Among the restrictions, the offshore wind developer must provide electricity from an offshore wind energy project located on the outer continental shelf and where no turbine is located within 10 miles of a inhabited area. Additionally, the wind farm must operate in a designated wind energy area where the developer received an initial federal lease on a competitive basis after Jan. 1, 2012.
All four offshore wind development companies that have leases for federal land south of the Islands – Vineyard Wind, Bay State Wind, Mayflower Wind Energy,and Equinor Wind US – had weighed in on preparations for the second round of bidding.
The second solicitation by the utility companies is part of a staggered schedule established by state law to buy approximately 1600 megawatts of offshore wind energy by June 30, 2027. The state’s Energy Diversity Act, which provides for the offshore wind energy purchases, is part of the state’s effort to meet goals set in the 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act.
The utility companies are seeking a levelized price per megawatt-hour lower than the price settled on with Vineyard Wind in the first contract, as the law requires. The levelized price is generally the minimum price at which energy must be sold for a project to break even.
For the first 800-megawatt contract – and what could be the first industrial-sized wind farm in the nation – Vineyard Wind intends to build an 84-turbine wind farm about 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard and lay its cables northward, between Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, to land at Covell Beach in Centerville. From Covell Beach, the cables would be laid under public streets for about 5 miles to a new substation off Independence Drive in Hyannis, and then connect to an existing Eversource substation nearby to add electricity to the regional grid.
The final environmental impact statement for the company’s construction and operations plan is expected to be issued June 7 by the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
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