Mass. Legislature Passes Nation’s Largest Offshore Wind Bill To Date

Posted by Betsy Lillian on August 01, 2016 No Comments
Categories : Featured, Policy Watch

Today, the Massachusetts State Legislature voted on and passed H.B.4568, a comprehensive energy bill that includes a requirement for utilities to contract 1,600 MW of offshore wind power. This legislation, which also includes provisions for hydropower, is the first to include a carve-out for offshore wind at a scale necessary to create a viable U.S. market and, according to officials, is the largest-ever state commitment to offshore wind power.

As outlined, the bill is designed to address Massachusetts’ growing energy needs through increased efficiency measures; grid modernization; and a shift to cleaner, renewable sources of energy. Entitled “An Act to Promote Energy Diversity,” the bill passed both the State House and the Senate and will now go to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk for his signature.

DONG Energy, offshore wind project developer, praised the Massachusetts State Legislature for formally adopting the energy bill.

“The adoption of this legislation is a landmark moment for Massachusetts’ clean energy future and a victory for the commonwealth’s residents and businesses,” says Thomas Brostrøm, general manager of North America for DONG Energy wind power. “This bill will allow the creation of a viable offshore wind energy industry here in Massachusetts, delivering cost-effective clean energy, helping the state reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.”

“With this legislation, Massachusetts shows clear leadership in setting out a strong ambition for offshore wind,” says Brostrøm. “The offshore wind industry has the potential to create thousands of local jobs up and down the East Coast, and Massachusetts’ has positioned itself to be the leader in making the industry a reality. Additionally, this creates the right environment for competition between the developers allowing the best value for ratepayers for any offshore wind contracts awarded.”

DONG Energy says it has committed to delivering a utility-scale wind farm with an installed capacity of up to 1,000 MW, which is enough to power over 500,000 Massachusetts homes. The company expects a project of this dimension to create an estimated 1,000 new jobs in Massachusetts during construction and approximately 100 new jobs in the state to support the operational life of the offshore wind farm.

According to DONG, its Massachusetts project, branded “Bay State Wind,” offers the commonwealth an opportunity to bring homegrown renewable energy to the state’s residents and businesses while reducing carbon emissions and advancing the state’s greenhouse-gas reduction goals and renewable portfolio standard requirements.

One-third of the potential offshore wind resources in the U.S. are located on the East Coast, which has similar site conditions to successful existing DONG Energy offshore wind projects in the U.K., Denmark and Germany. DONG expects Massachusetts, with ideal wind speeds and water depths between 130 feet and 165 feet, will garner the economic and supply-chain benefits of being the first mover to site utility-scale offshore wind energy on the U.S. East Coast.

Several other environmental and energy companies have expressed their support for the passage of this bill.

The developers of the proposed Vermont Green Line – Ed Krapels, CEO of Anbaric, and John Flynn, National Grid senior vice president of U.S. business development – have issued the following statement on the energy bill:

“The passage of this bill marks a major milestone for the advancement of clean energy in Massachusetts, and we congratulate both the House and the Senate for their forward thinking. This legislation embraces competition as a means to accelerate the addition of significant renewable resources to the Bay State’s energy portfolio, thereby improving the environment and helping to meet policy goals in a way that is cost-effective for consumers. We also appreciate that our Massachusetts legislature recognizes the combination of onshore wind and hydropower as an efficient bridge to offshore wind development.”

Catherine Bowes, senior manager for climate and energy at the National Wildlife Federation’s (NWF) Northeast Regional Center, comments, “With momentum building for offshore wind power along the coast, the legislature has made a critical and historic down payment that will reduce pollution, create jobs and position the Bay State as the hub of a new American industry. Massachusetts should be really proud of our legislators today.”

According to the NWF, Massachusetts has no time to waste in launching a clean energy future, as 2016 continues on pace to eclipse 2015 as the hottest year on record. The foundation states that with over 8,000 MW of clean power available in areas designated for development far from shore, the passage of this bill should be just the beginning of the commonwealth’s next energy chapter.

The NWF adds that Massachusetts residents strongly support adding offshore wind power to the state’s energy portfolio, with 78% of voters supporting offshore wind turbines at least 10 miles from the coast and a majority (52%) strongly supporting it, according to a September 2015 TargetSmart survey.

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