5 New England states seek info on transmission issues

Joint effort to address cost of interconnecting offshore wind farms

FIVE OF THE SIX New England states have launched an effort to better coordinate the process of bringing ashore electricity produced by offshore wind farms and feeding the power into the regional grid.

Currently, states contract with offshore wind developers and the developers select where they want to bring their power ashore and are responsible for all transmission system upgrades needed to make that happen.

The process has gone fairly smoothly so far, with developers picking interconnection points on Cape Cod, in Somerset, and in Rhode Island.

According to the request for information put out by every New England state except Vermont, the relatively easy-to-do hookups are nearly all taken, or will be once Massachusetts completes its procurement for an additional 1,600 megawatts of power.

“As additional offshore wind is interconnected under this paradigm, significant landside upgrades will be necessary to enable interconnection of additional offshore wind while maintaining system reliability and not increase congestion costs. The cost of these additional transmission upgrades will be substantial, in the scale of billions of dollars,” says the request for information.

To keep transmission costs to a minimum, the states are looking for ways to deliver power to where it is needed in the most efficient manner possible. The request for information suggests Boston and Bridgeport, Connecticut, could be the most efficient interconnection points for future offshore wind farms.

The states ask for feedback on whether it might be possible to interconnect much further inland by running interconnection cables up rivers.

The states also ask whether undersea power cables should serve multiple wind farms and whether the cables should be confined to specified corridors to reduce the impact on wildlife.

All of this planning is taking place with similar work taking place at the federal level – and the promise of federal funding if states work together to address the problem.

“This planning could include the possibility of states collaborating in a procurement of transmission resources associated with future renewable energy generation,” the request for information states.

The request for information asks for responses from stakeholders and offshore wind developers by October 14.