Lawmakers Eye Raising Offshore Wind Target to Achieve Climate Goals
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, MAY 18, 2023…..With the ball starting to roll on offshore wind development, lawmakers are looking this session to accelerate additional renewable energy capacity and environmental advocates warn they’ll need to pick up the pace to meet the state’s ambitious climate goals.
A handful of bills before the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy would allow the state to increase its capacity to bring thousands of megawatts of offshore wind energy onto the grid, coming at a time when Gov. Maura Healey has shown an appetite for significant new development.
The Healey administration announced earlier this month that they want to add up to 3,600 more megawatts to the collection of in-development or under-contract offshore wind projects in the pipeline. That maximum amount would be more than twice as large as the 1,600 megawatts selected in the last procurement round two years ago, according to the Healey administration, on its own would meet about a quarter of the state’s annual electricity demand. However, the upcoming round might backfill some prior wind capacity if some previously approved projects fall through now that developers are warning about changing economic conditions.
“If all goes according to plan with our current set of procurement commitments, which is an open question, Massachusetts will have 3.2 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by around 2030. That means we will have around 20 years to develop and bring online 19.8 gigawatts of offshore wind power,” said Kyle Murray, senior advocate and Massachusetts program director at environmental nonprofit Acadia Center, during a Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy public hearing on Thursday.
“Therefore, it is crucial for our commonwealth to display a commitment to large and long-term clean energy requirements to continue to send a signal to developers that Massachusetts will be a leader in offshore wind,” Murray said.
The offshore wind bill would also remove remuneration to utility companies such as National Grid, which receive up to 2.25 percent of an offshore wind project bid. The payments are intended to offset the risk that utility companies take working with a nascent industry.
“Offshore wind is no longer a far-off proposition here in Massachusetts. Our first wind farm should be operational by the end of this year. Offshore wind will be a large reality in our energy mix going forward,” Murray said. “Therefore, the utilities no longer need this incentive, which is around $168 million for the Vineyard Wind project, simply to bring these contracts onto the books.”
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