S. Coast lawmakers push offshore wind project

Lobby Baker administration on clean energy procurement

The following is a letter sent to Matthew Beaton, the secretary of energy and environmental affairs, on December 12 by Rep. Patricia Haddad of Somerset and cosigned by Sen. Michael Rodrigues of Westport.

AS THE SECTION 83D Massachusetts Clean Energy RFP selection process is coming to a close, I wish to offer my observations and insight as a primary author of the legislation. This law has given Massachusetts the opportunity to alter our energy future and allow the Commonwealth to continue its leadership on these issues.

For over half a century, my community of Somerset had been home to two of the four coal-fired power plants in Massachusetts. Both Brayton Point and Montaup have now closed. At one time, they provided a significant portion of the tax base in Somerset and our community became dependent on the substantial revenues generated by these facilities. Due to the recent closing of Brayton Point, our community  must rely on the future development of that site to help offset the lost tax revenue. Because of this need, in late 2014 I hosted a series of stakeholder discussions on the issue of energy, inviting all stakeholders in the process to discuss policies to not only replace much needed tax revenues in Somerset, but also to plan for a clean energy future in Massachusetts. Those discussions led to the Legislature passing a mandate requiring the purchase of 1,200 megawatts of renewable energy and another 1,600 megawatts specifically for offshore wind.

Although I did not initially anticipate it, I was excited to learn of Deepwater Wind’s creative decision to  submit a bid in the 83D procurement process. Deepwater Wind’s proposal, called Revolution Wind, is for 144 megawatts, with a potential of as high as 288 megawatts. I’ve been told that the Revolution Wind bid, which includes transmissions costs, has been priced extremely competitively.

There are a number of reasons I believe it is in the state’s interest to strongly consider the Revolution Wind proposal. Revolution Wind provides power to the South Coast of Massachusetts where the need is the greatest. With the recent closing of Brayton Point and the imminent closing of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant, nearly 2,500 reliable megawatts of energy will no longer be available to  the  South Coast. Electricity coming from Canada would have to travel through expensive and lengthy transmission lines to reach our area in southeastern Massachusetts. However, the Revolution Wind project is proposed to be built off the South Coast of Massachusetts, just 20 miles offshore, making it a reliable, cost-effective, and home-grown energy resource.

The Revolution Wind project will create important economic opportunity for Massachusetts. It will generate over $250 million in positive economic impact in the region, including 700 construction jobs and 60-80 permanent operations and maintenance jobs. If Deepwater Wind’s proposal is chosen to participate in the Section 83D procurement, it will be joined by a second project through the 83C process in 2018. There are significant benefits in having two projects under construction simultaneously. With two developments so closely aligned, there will be far greater opportunities for local firms to compete and participate in the industry thereby decreasing costs for ratepayers through competition and encouraging local investment in places like Somerset.

Revolution Wind creates jobs and competition in Massachusetts while helping to maintain the Commonwealth’s leadership position in offshore wind. Since the passage of our 2016 landmark energy law, many northeastern states having demonstrated interest in offshore wind. New York has committed to 2,400 megawatts by 2030. New Jersey’s governor-elect Phil Murphy, the former ambassador to Germany who has seen first-hand the re-industrializing of German ports through offshore wind, is pledging 3,500 megawatts by 2030. There is enormous benefit in our state by moving quickly to maintain our nation-leading position and capture as much of the economic development activity as possible in this increasingly competitive environment. Selecting Revolution Wind in the Section 83D procurement signals to the global marketplace that Massachusetts is serious about this industry.

Meet the Author

Patricia Haddad

State representative, Massachusetts House
Meet the Author

Michael Rodrigues

State senator, Massachusetts Senate
For a fraction of the overall solicitation, the benefits are enormous. Large-scale hydropower and land-based wind farms from the northern reaches of New England and Canada will supply the majority of the renewable energy in this procurement. However, I am not aware of any other bidder in this RFP who will create jobs in Massachusetts. The Revolution Wind project will allow the industry to develop in Massachusetts while employing people here in the Commonwealth. We will see competitively priced offshore wind energy delivered to where we need it the most while stimulating economic development in a region that will certainly benefit, my own community included. Finally, by accepting the Revolution Wind project’s bid in the 83D RFP, we will accelerate the growth of the industry by allowing multiple projects to develop simultaneously.

For all of these reasons, I encourage you to consider Deepwater Wind’s bid for the Revolution Wind project to be a participant in the Massachusetts Clean Energy RFP. Massachusetts has consistently been a pioneer and leader in many innovative and exciting areas and I know offshore wind will be another. I thank you for your attention to this important matter and please do not hesitate to contact me should you wish to discuss further.