3 firms competing in 2d offshore wind procurement

Vineyard Wind, its 1st project in limbo, is bidding again

THREE COMPANIES SUBMITTED proposals on Friday for the state’s second offshore wind procurement, an indication that a last-minute budgetary maneuver by Gov. Charlie Baker succeeded in spurring a competitive bid process.

Officials with Vineyard Wind, Bay State Wind, and Mayflower Wind Energy confirmed they submitted bids. Officials at a fourth company, Equinor Wind, could not be reached for comment, but industry sources said they didn’t think the company submitted a proposal.

State officials said bid information would be posted on a state website as soon as possible. All three companies submitted proposals of varying sizes. The state’s utilities are expected to review the proposals, pick a winner, and negotiate a contract by the end of the year.

The procurement process is being watched closely for a variety of reasons. First, the state’s first procurement, won by Vineyard Wind, is in federal regulatory limbo. But that didn’t appear to deter bidders, including Vineyard Wind.

Second, a provision in a 2016 state law required that the bids on this procurement come in lower than the first procurement. But the combination of Vineyard Wind’s low bid in the first procurement and the phasing out of a major federal tax credit stirred fears that no one would bid on the second procurement with the price cap included. Baker sidestepped the problem several weeks ago by pushing through a change in state law that removed the price cap for this procurement. Several company officials said they probably would not have bid without the removal of the price cap.

Officials from the South Coast of Massachusetts have been concerned that the emphasis on price in the first procurement had come at the expense of other benefits, such as job-creating investments in onshore supply chains.

The three companies hinted at significant onshore investments in their proposals.

The Vineyard Wind press release quoted CEO Lars Pedersen as saying the company’s proposal would “offer significant job creation and port infrastructure investment opportunity for the region, while ensuring an attractive, fixed price for electric ratepayers.”

Bay State, a joint venture of Orsted Wind Power North America and Eversource Energy, said its project is committing “hundreds of millions to direct community investments.”

John Hartnett, president of Mayflower, a joint venture of Shell New Energies US and EDP Renewables, said in a brief telephone interview that his company’s bid includes infrastructure and manufacturing investments.

Vineyard Wind won the initial procurement, but the project was put on hold by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management as the agency studies how it would interact with other projects up and down the East Coast. Fishing groups  have raised concerns about the design of the initial Vineyard Wind project, with its northwest-southeast orientation and turbines spaced 9/10ths of a mile apart. Pedersen said that design was selected to benefit New Bedford scallopers.

Fishing groups, however, have pushed for an east-west orientation and at least 1 nautical mile between turbines, and raised concerns that if Vineyard Wind’s wind farm gets built with an orientation different from the others likely to go up in nearby waters that fishing boats could face significant navigational concerns.

In its press release Friday, Vineyard Wind said its proposal for a second wind farm, to be located just south of its original wind farm lease area, would be oriented in an east-west direction with spacing of one nautical mile between turbines.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

Bay State in its press release touted its close working relationship with the fishing industry. “In response to feedback from fishermen and community members, Bay State Wind was the first developer to proactively revise its turbine layout pattern to accommodate historical fishing patterns and help to provide greater ease of fishing within, and transiting through, the wind farm,” the company said.

A company spokeswoman said Bay State’s proposal will call for a wind farm with an east-west orientation and spacing of one nautical mile between turbines.