Massachusetts' four utility companies have jointly filed contracts with state regulators for a total 565 MW of wind energy. According to the Gov. Deval Patrick administration, if approved, the deals would represent the largest procurement of renewable energy in New England.
Northeast Utilities, which owns and operates NSTAR and Western Massachusetts Electric Co. (WMECo), National Grid, and Unitil filed the plan with the Department of Public Utilities (DPU). The Patrick administration says that the weighted average price from all of the contracts is less than $0.08/kWh.
The deals call for six projects to be built in Maine and New Hampshire by developers First Wind, Iberdrola Renewables and Exergy Development Group.
First Wind, for example, has been selected to supply over 330 MW from two projects planned in Maine.
The 147 MW Oakfield Wind project, which received siting approval from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in January 2012, will comprise 48 turbines. According to the developer, construction is scheduled to start by the end of this year, and the project should be completed and online in 2015.
First Wind's planned 186 MW Bingham Wind project is in the advanced permitting stages with the Maine DEP and would feature 62 turbines. The developer expects both projects will qualify for federal investment tax credits.
In August 2012, Patrick signed into law new energy legislation directing Massachusetts' electric distribution companies to solicit proposals for long-term contracts associated with renewable energy projects to provide 4% of their total energy demand. The four companies issued a joint request for proposals, which the DPU approved on April 1, 2013. The following month, the companies received 40 bids to jointly consider. Short-listed bids were selected in July, and contract negotiations took place throughout August.
"We are pleased with the results of this solicitation. By pooling the resources of all the utilities, we were able to purchase a large amount of clean, renewable energy for the state at below-market prices," says Ronald Gerwatowski, senior vice president of U.S. regulation and pricing at National Grid. "In addition to delivering environmental benefits for years to come, these agreements have the potential to save customers money over the long term. Renewables are an investment in our green energy future. These long-term power supply contracts are great news for our customers and the Commonwealth."
The DPU will begin its review process, including a public comment period and public hearings for each of the utilities.
Currently, the Patrick administration says Massachusetts has 311 MW of solar power installed, with more than 130 MW installed in 2012 alone. There has been an increase in wind energy from 3 MW to 103 MW since 2007.