Mayflower Wind, without contract, moving ahead

Mayflower Wind still doesn’t have a final contract for its offshore wind farm off the coast of Nantucket, but it appears to be moving ahead with the project anyway in a bid to tap federal investment tax credits.

A press release issued by a joint venture of two Danish companies on Wednesday indicated Mayflower has hired them to build a 1,200 megawatt offshore substation. “The offshore substation project will be initiated in January 2020,” says the press release put out by Semco Maritime, an engineering and contracting company, and Bladt Industries, a steel construction firm.

Michael Brown, the chief financial officer of Mayflower, said in the press release that the contract with Semco and Bladt is part of an effort to obtain federal tax credits before they expire.

“Recent changes to US tax law now allow projects that meet qualification standards in 2020 to secure federal investment tax credits at the 18 percent level,” Brown said. “This contract is a key step for us to meet those standards and secure tax credits that would ultimately result in a lower rate for electricity customers in Massachusetts.”

In its bid for the wind farm contract, Mayflower offered three major options — a lowest-price option, an option with a slightly higher price but with more onshore investment, and an option with a still higher price along with far more onshore investment. The company said the price in all three bids would be less than what Vineyard Wind promised in its head-turning winning bid for the state’s first offshore wind farm.

The state’s three utilities, with no apparent pushback from the Baker administration, selected Mayflower’s lowest-price option, which disappointed officials on the South Coast who are looking to offshore wind as a way to generate more economic activity and jobs in the region.

Mayflower, a joint venture of Shell New Energies and EDPR Offshore North America, is hoping to have its 804-megawatt wind farm up and running in 2025.

Mayflower Wind won the state’s second offshore wind contract at the end of October, but the terms of the deal spelling out the price and other obligations remain under wraps. The original goal was to finish the contract on December 13, but that deadline passed with no action. On Tuesday, the state’s three utilities, who are handling the negotiations with Mayflower, said they struck a final deal Friday evening. But, again, they said the terms of the deal would not be released until the document is sent to the Department of Public Utilities for approval, which is expected to occur no later than February 10.

John Hartnett, Mayflower’s president, said in a telephone interview that the company is taking some risk in moving forward with construction before the final contract is in place. A federal environmental review that has delayed construction of Vineyard Wind is also dragging on.

But Hartnett said he is confident the Mayflower Wind’s contract will get done and the wind farm will go up. He’s so confident that the company is building a 1,200 megawatt substation to accommodate the firm’s future growth in its lease area off the coast of Nantucket.

“Climate change is real and we really need to get moving,” Hartnett said. “That’s why I’m confident we’ll move forward with this project.”

BRUCE MOHL


BEACON HILL

The Massachusetts Health Policy Commission identifies three troubling cost trends, and two of them trace back to the state’s most expensive health care system, Partners HealthCare. (CommonWealth)

Legislation to revive rent control draws a big crowd to the State House. (State House News)

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu says he thinks the multistate Transportation Climate Initiative is toast, but Gov. Charlie Baker’s top environmental aide tells lawmakers she remains “fully committed to getting TCI done” and is not looking at any “Plan B.” (Boston Herald)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Members of the Falmouth Board of Selectmen say they will wait for water sample results to address asbestos concerns in the town. (Cape Cod Times) 

Residents of Fall River continue to air grievances to the City Council over marijuana retailer Northeast Alternatives’ impact on traffic congestion, odor, and property damage, so far to no avail. (Herald News)  

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

New materials released by House Democrats show previously unreported efforts by Rudolph Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, to gather information in Ukraine to undermine Trump rival Joe Biden. (Washington Post)

Trump is vowing to veto a “forever chemicals” bill, stirring anger in Massachusetts. (Eagle-Tribune)

ELECTIONS

The issue of the electability of a woman candidate for president took centerstage at last night’s Democratic presidential debate, with no sign of a cooling off of the conflict between lefty rivals Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. (Boston Globe)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Business leaders in the state are increasingly upbeat about the Massachusetts economy, according the latest survey of top private sector brass from Associated Industries of Massachusetts. (Boston Globe)

EDUCATION

The Pioneer Institute’s Charles Chieppo and Jamie Gass criticize Massachusetts for abandoning its recipe for educational success. (CommonWealth)

Jose Fuentes, a tech entrepreneur, moves up from vice chair to become chair of the Hampshire College board of trustees. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

A new study conducted at McLean Hospital in Belmont says heavy marijuana use by those younger than 16 is linked with poorer driving as adults, even when not under the influence of drugs, highlighting the growing evidence of the risks of pot use among adolescents. (Boston Globe)

With flu season well underway, South Shore Hospital’s emergency room is seeing about 20 percent more patients than normal, causing long wait times and overcrowding and stretching staff and resources thin. (Patriot Ledger)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Sen. Jamie Eldridge, the cochair of the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee, says the 2018 criminal justice reform bill had nothing to do with last Friday’s attack by inmates on corrections officers at the state maximum security prison in Shirley, and he said the state has actually failed to implement the new law’s provisions dealing with prisoners. (WBUR) The Lowell Sun, in an editorial, thinks otherwise.

A revoked registration led to a  Brockton traffic stop that resulted in illegal firearm charges for four people Saturday. (The Enterprise) 

A Boston police officer is facing multiple charges, including witness intimidation, after allegedly mailing a fake State Police citation to a driver he said cut him off on Interstate 93. (Boston Globe)

MEDIA

The New York Times passes its goal of $800 million in digital revenue a year ahead of schedule.

States Newsroom, which funds independent state house coverage, is expanding to at least 20 new state capitols. (Axios)

With its new bureau in Worcester, WGBH wants to bring Worcester news to its audience. (Telegram & Gazette)

Ken Doctor says “industry vulture” Alden Global Capital is already having an influence at Tribune Publishing, helping the newspaper company cut costs. (Nieman Journalism Lab)