Avangrid provides on-the-water glimpse of offshore wind future
Electricity from six turbines should be flowing in October
WIND FARM DEVELOPER Avangrid provided a preview of coming attractions on Wednesday, taking a group of lawmakers, environmental advocates, and reporters out to the construction site of the nation’s first commercial scale wind farm.
No wind turbines are up yet at Vineyard Wind 1, a $4 billion joint venture of Avangrid and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners. But six foundations are positioned on the ocean floor and an electricity substation is finished. Officials said at least six turbines should be producing electricity in October with the full, 62-turbine wind farm scheduled to be completed about a year from now.
The 13-megawatt turbines are being manufactured by General Electric and will rise some 853 feet above sea level. It was very difficult to see Martha’s Vineyard from the wind farm area – Avangrid executives said no one will see the wind turbines from shore – but it is possible lights aboard the turbines and the substation might be visible at night.
Lawmakers said just seeing the work in progress was a tremendous lift and provided a tangible sign of the state’s efforts to decarbonize and address climate change.
“It’s shrewd of Avangrid to invite us out here because this goes way beyond the theoretical. It’s all very material, very tangible. That compounds your determination to see more of these built,” said Sen. Michael Barrett of Lexington, the Senate chair of the Legislature’s Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy Committee.
Avangrid is seeking to build an even bigger wind farm called Commonwealth Wind. The company signed a power purchase agreement for the project last year, but is now seeking to terminate that contract because inflation, rising interest rates, the war in Ukraine, and supply chain disruptions have reduced margins to a level where the company says financing the project is no longer possible. The company, which has agreed to pay $48 million to ratepayers as part of the termination agreement, wants to rebid the project in a procurement scheduled for next year.
Another wind farm developer, SouthCoast Wind, a joint venture of Shell and Ocean Winds North America, is also seeking to terminate its existing contract and rebid it in the next procurement by paying a fine.The electricity substation is where the electricity from the wind turbines will be collected and then transported ashore at Barnstable via undersea cables. A vessel was putting the finishing touches on those cables Wednesday.
In a filing with the Department of Public Utilities on Wednesday, several environmental organizations, including the Environmental League of Massachusetts, which was a cosponsor of the boat trip from Hyannis to the Vineyard Wind 1 construction site, urged the regulatory agency to structure future contracts so there won’t be a repeat of what happened with the current contracts. The groups also said the penalty payments should go to low-income customers and shouldn’t be passed on to ratepayers in future contracts.