A trio of announcements from the northeast United States has set the country’s nascent offshore wind industry ablaze, with Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Jersey combining to make announcements that will support the development of at least 5 gigawatts (GW) worth of offshore wind energy over the next decade.
The offshore wind industry in the United States has been slow-going for a long time, with only the 30 megawatt (MW) Block Island wind farm in operation, which was completed and has been operating since December of 2016. Over the last few months the heat was turned up, however, and developers in the country’s northeast began making significant headway on plans and proposals, including the 800 MW Bay State Wind offshore wind farm and the smaller 200 MW Constitution Wind project.
The revolution is officially on, however, as of this week, with three separate announcements from the states of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Jersey.
800 MW Vineyard Wind
Massachusetts Electric Distribution Companies officially selected Vineyard Wind — backed by Iberdrola S.A., and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) — as the winner of a request for proposals opened by the state. The 800 MW project will be built in a leased area of 160,000 acres south of Martha’s Vineyard and 14 miles from the nearest shore. Vineyard Wind beat out two other potential projects — developed by Bay State Wind and Deepwater Wind.
“Today’s announcement brings the Commonwealth one step closer to achieving our administration’s goals of creating a clean, reliable and cost-effective energy future for Massachusetts residents, and significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change,” said Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker. “By positioning Massachusetts as a hub for the emerging offshore wind industry, this competitive procurement will ensure the Commonwealth continues to lead the nation in innovation and renewable energy generation.”
“Vineyard Wind is proud to be selected to lead the new Massachusetts offshore wind industry into the future,” added Lars Thaaning Pedersen, CEO of Vineyard Wind. “Today’s announcement reflects the strong commitment to clean energy by Governor Baker and the Massachusetts Legislature.”
400 MW Revolution Wind
Separately — though claimed by the Massachusetts Government as thanks to their “leadership in competitively soliciting for offshore wind energy” — Rhode Island also announced an offshore wind deal, giving the go-ahead for the 400 MW Revolution Wind project being developed by Deepwater Wind, which lost out in Massachusetts, but probably had a leg-up in Rhode Island given it was the developer behind the 30 MW Block Island project.
Deepwater Wind’s Revolution Wind project was selected through Rhode Island’s participation in Massachusetts’ same process that awarded the win to Vineyard Wind.
“Rhode Island made history when we built the first offshore wind farm in the United States,” said Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “Today, we are doing it again. This new, large-scale offshore wind project will bring clean and low-cost power to Rhode Islanders and further diversify our energy resources–all while adding good-paying jobs to our growing economy.”
“Rhode Island pioneered American offshore wind energy, and it’s only fitting that the Ocean State continues to be the vanguard of this growing industry,” added Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski, when reached for comment. “We applaud Governor Raimondo for her bold commitment to a clean energy future. We are building a new industry here in Rhode Island while driving down the cost of clean energy. Revolution Wind will mean lots of jobs for Rhode Island and major investments in local infrastructure.”
“New England is taking a giant leap forward with this historic commitment to 1,200 megawatts of offshore wind energy, and we’re proud that one-third of that clean energy will be built by the Deepwater Wind team for our home state of Rhode Island,” Jeffrey Grybowski added via email. “We pioneered American offshore wind here, and we’re building on that promise with this next frontier of offshore wind here in the Ocean State.”
The moves by Massachusetts and Rhode Island was heralded by supporters and trade bodies alike.
“With today’s landmark decisions, Massachusetts and Rhode Island are ready to pioneer large-scale offshore wind development that will light the way for our industry and nation,“ said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association. “With world-class wind resources, infrastructure and offshore energy expertise, the US is primed to scale up this industry and lead it. Becoming a world leader for offshore wind will open tremendous new opportunities for US workers, factories, and ships throughout our coastal states.”
“It is a historic day for offshore wind power in New England, thanks to project commitments by Massachusetts and Rhode Island that will collectively power a half million homes,” added Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “The National Wildlife Federation applauds the leadership of these states for ensuring that New England becomes a hub for this transformational new clean energy industry. Responsibly developed offshore wind power offers an unparalleled opportunity to bring thousands of jobs and reliable, affordable power to the region while advancing a critically needed climate solution.”
New Jersey Commits To 3,500 MW Of Offshore Wind
A separate announcement made just to the south in New Jersey served to make Wednesday a mammoth day for the US offshore wind energy industry, with the state’s Governor Phil Murphy signing into legislation a bill that codifies his goal of securing 3,500 MW worth of offshore wind by 2030, and reinstating an expired program to provide tax credits for offshore wind manufacturing activities.
The Governor’s plan was originally announced back in early April at the annual International Offshore Wind Partnering Forum, but by signing it into law the Governor has signalled his strong intent to make offshore wind a key part of his state’s future energy mix.
“Today Governor Murphy sent an unambiguous signal that New Jersey is ready for clean energy investment that will lead to good jobs and a more prosperous economy,” said AWEA’s Tom Kiernan. “We thank the Governor and legislative champions like Senators Bob Smith, Stephen Sweeney, Paul Sarlo, and Jeff Van Drew, as well as Assembly Persons Wayne DeAngelo, John Burzichelli, John McKeon, and Nancy Pinkin, for their vision and swift action enacting this legislation.”
“We join our many offshore wind energy supporters in New Jersey in thanking Governor Murphy and both houses of the legislature for passing and signing this historic piece of legislation,” added Liz Burdock, Executive Director, Business Network for Offshore Wind. “The Clean Energy Bill sets the ambitious goals of producing 35 percent of New Jersey’s electricity from renewable sources by 2025, and 50 percent by 2030, with a requirement of 3500 megawatts (MW) coming from offshore wind by 2030.”
Governor Murphy’s commitment to offshore wind was similarly backed by those developers looking to benefit from New Jersey’s offshore wind energy commitment.
“Governor Murphy is putting New Jersey’s stake in the ground with the nation’s largest offshore wind target yet,” said Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski. “With our plans to power the Garden State with offshore wind energy from our site over the horizon, we’re perfectly positioned to create New Jersey jobs thanks to Governor Murphy’s bold vision.”
The Future and the Chopping Block
Unsurprisingly, those developers who were similarly hoping to secure capacity in Massachusetts’ tender were disappointed with how things played out. Thomas Brostrøm and Lee Olivier from Bay State Wind said: “We’re disappointed by today’s decision by the Massachusetts evaluation team. We made a compelling offer to help the commonwealth meet its ambitious clean energy goals while maintaining strong financial discipline. Further, our proposal to interconnect our project into the former Brayton Point facility in Somerset, Massachusetts, would ensure clean energy delivery into one of the strongest connections on New England’s electrical grid. We remain fully committed to our Bay State Wind partnership, as together we pursue future solicitations in New England and New York.”
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