Vineyard Wind Goes Double Or Nothing With Second Ocean Turbines Proposal

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By Colin A. Young

Even as its first planned project hangs in a morass of federal reviews and regulatory wrangling, Vineyard Wind on Friday doubled down on its plan to provide Massachusetts with clean energy from offshore wind turbines.

The company selected to fulfill the state’s first offshore wind procurement and at least one other developer, Bay State Wind, submitted bids by Friday to the state Department of Energy Resources and electric distribution companies to be considered for the state’s second procurement of up to 800 megawatts of offshore wind energy.

The state and utility companies Eversource, National Grid, and Unitil are seeking to procure at least 400 megawatts of power but will consider proposals from 200 megawatts up to 800 megawatts. The procurement is expected to fulfill the second half of the Legislature’s 2016 authorization of 1,600 megawatts of wind power.

Friday was the deadline for interested parties to submit confidential bids to the state and utilities. Public versions of the bids are due Friday, August 30, when the full suite of proposals is expected to become available. The state and utilities expect to select a project in November and execute a long-term contract by the end of the year.

Vineyard Wind, which already had been tapped for the first 800-megawatt procurement, on Friday submitted a bid for the second procurement, including a 400-megawatt option and two options for the development of an 800-megawatt project, the company said.

“Vineyard Wind is very excited to submit these proposals, which offer significant job creation and port infrastructure investment opportunity for the region, while ensuring an attractive, fixed price for electric ratepayers,” said Lars Pedersen, chief executive officer of Vineyard Wind, said. “We look forward to announcing additional details on this exciting project in the weeks ahead.”

While its first project — Vineyard Wind 1 — floats in limbo while the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management studies the wider impacts of the offshore wind industry to address concerns from fishermen about how Vineyard Wind 1’s 84 turbines would be arranged, the company said its second project would be built just south of the site of the planned first project and will incorporate feedback from its first project.

“The design for Vineyard Wind 2 features turbines in rows aligned in an east-west direction, with spacing of 1 nautical mile between turbines,” said the company, which is a joint venture of Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Avangrid Renewables.

Bay State Wind, a joint venture between Ørsted and Eversource, submitted proposals Friday, August 23 for a 400-megawatt project and an 800-megawatt project. The larger project “could generate enough clean, renewable energy to provide power up to 500,000 Massachusetts homes and is expected to deliver greenhouse gas reductions equivalent to taking up to 350,000 cars off the road,” the companies said in a press release.

“Our project will not only create jobs and provide local investment, it will be delivered by the offshore wind’s leading experts to ensure the project is achievable, sustainable and successful for the commonwealth,” said Thomas Brostrøm, president of Ørsted North America and chief executive officer of Ørsted U.S. Offshore Wind.

The companies touted the project’s maturity – it has been in development since 2015 and has more than 50 full-time local employees – as well as their “holistic approach” to wind farm development and their engagement with local stakeholders.

“We understand the comprehensive and parallel efforts required to develop and construct a wind farm in the waters off New England, and our team has developed metrics, including integrated scheduling techniques, to measure progress and proactively anticipate all steps in the process,” the companies said.

Administration officials say they are hoping to build on the new industry’s growing supply chain and aiming to ensure job creation at the local level. The bulk of wind energy development is happening in federally leased areas south of Martha’s Vineyard, with New Bedford angling to serve as a staging center.

The 2016 renewable energy law requires bidders to come in with lower prices in the second procurement, compared to the first, but whichever project is selected from this round of bids will not have to beat the price agreed to by Vineyard Wind – Governor Charlie Baker signed a bill August 1 temporarily suspending the price requirement for the second procurement.

Initial bids were originally due August 9, but the state pushed the deadline back two weeks to accommodate the change in the price cap requirement. “This revision is intended to provide sufficient time for all prospective bidders to revise their bids, if necessary, to account for the change in law,” according to the bidding overseers.

Public bids are due to the state Friday, August 30, and the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs is expected at that time to comment on the bids that it receives.

Earlier this year, the Baker administration said it is on board with pursuing additional renewable energy procurements, enough to double the amount of possible offshore wind power in Massachusetts to provide roughly a third of the state’s electricity demand.

The state Department of Energy Resources said it would be beneficial to Massachusetts ratepayers to procure an additional 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind power, which the state Legislature last year authorized but did not mandate.

The state agency is expected to seek the additional 1,600 megawatts of energy generation in chunks of up to 800 megawatts, starting in 2022.