Governor, move more quickly on offshore wind

Select multiple winners, speed up future procurements

The following is a letter sent to Gov. Charlie Baker by the heads of 12 environmental groups.

ON BEHALF OF THE UNDERSIGNED organizations and our hundreds of thousands of members across the Commonwealth, we applaud your work to advance offshore wind power. Such determined leadership made Massachusetts the first in the nation to invite bids for utility-scale offshore wind projects. These actions have already attracted investment by offshore wind companies, created jobs, and sparked economic activity across Massachusetts. In light of intensifying competition from states along the coast, we urge you to increase the Commonwealth’s determination to responsibly develop offshore wind power as a solution to our pressing energy challenges.

As environmental, conservation, and science advocacy organizations, we share deep concern for the impacts of climate change and pollution that result from our reliance on fossil fuels. For years, we have worked with both public- and private-sector entities to help ensure that the offshore wind industry develops as swiftly as responsible development allows. We believe that the thorough and ongoing stakeholder engagement processes, including those led by your administration, have equipped the Commonwealth with what it needs to boldly stride forward in selecting the first round of development that can secure broad public support in the upcoming review processes.

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In order to maximize near-term benefits, we offer the following recommendations:

  1. The selection of the winning 83C bids should not be delayed any further. We were encouraged by your recent comments that a decision will be announced no later than May. Further delay could result in missed economic benefits as states like New York and New Jersey move to establish vibrant offshore wind markets with larger near-term commitments.
  2. More than one project should be selected from the first round of bids. Allowing multiple developers to move forward from the outset will better position Massachusetts to be the host of a burgeoning industry with vibrant competition across the supply chain and increased opportunities for the local workforce.
  3. The second RFP should be issued within six months of the first selection. This will help ensure that Massachusetts continues ushering environmentally responsible and increasingly affordable projects into the development pipeline.
With gigawatts of nuclear and fossil fuel-fired power plants retiring, and growing competition from our neighbors, we need to hold course toward securing our largest home-grown clean energy resource and finally reaping its benefits. The recent announcement by US Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke of a proposed sale notice for the unleased wind energy areas off of Massachusetts indicates significant interest in the region’s offshore wind resources. Offshore wind power is on track to be a pillar of America’s energy future – and now is our moment to establish a clear leading role for the Commonwealth in making it happen. With productive and forward-thinking engagement of those that cherish and rely on our marine and coastal environment, Massachusetts can model a path forward that protects wildlife and natural resources every step of the way.

The letter was written by Elizabeth Turnbull Henry, president of the Environmental League of Massachusetts; Catherine Bowes, program director for offshore wind energy at the National Wildlife Federation; Jack Clarke, director of public policy at Mass Audubon; Caitlin Peale Sloan. staff attorney at the Conservation Law Foundation; John H. Rogers, senior energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists; Kit Kennedy, senior director for climate and energy, Natural Resources Defense Council; Cindy Luppi, New England director of Clean Water Action; Craig Altemose, senior advisor, 350 Mass for a Better Future; Sylvia Broude, executive director of the Toxics Action Center; Ben Hellerstein, state director of the Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center; Carol Oldham, executive director of the Mass Climate Action Network; and David Zeek, energy committee member of the Massachusetts Sierra Club.