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August 12, 2017
The state has received nearly four dozen bids for a contract to add more renewable power to its energy portfolio — enough to power nearly 200,000 homes. The aim is to reduce Massachusetts’ reliance on fossil fuels and greenhouse gas-emitting power plants, major contributors to climate change.
It’s the first part of a two-step process mandated by a new law signed by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker last year.
Two days after bids were due on the first contract on July 27, the state issued a second request for proposals for off-shore wind projects. The goal of that request is to ultimately add another 1,600 megawatts of renewable wind energy in addition to the approximately 1,200 megawatts outlined in the first request. Off-shore wind energy bids are due in December.
The projects outlined in the first batch of proposals range from a solar power plant in East Windsor, Connecticut, to a wind turbine project in Swanton, Vermont, on a hilltop used primarily for commercial maple sugaring.
Some of the projects are more ambitious, including one from the Central Maine Power company.
The Maine utility proposes bringing either hydropower, wind power or a combination of both from Canada to Massachusetts.
National Grid is also offering proposals to increase the supply of renewable energy in Massachusetts. The utility said it would partner with Citizens Energy Corp., a nonprofit founded by former U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy II.
One project calls for delivering wind power from Quebec by upgrading its transmission network in Vermont and New Hampshire. Another calls for construction of a 23-mile transmission line from Nassau, New York, to Hinsdale, Massachusetts.
Kennedy said he looks forward “to expanding our projects and using our profits to help senior citizens and low-income families with their energy needs.”
Another ambitious proposal comes from Rhode Island offshore wind developer Deepwater Wind. The company is looking to build what it’s calling the world’s largest combined offshore wind-energy storage project.
The Revolution Wind farm would be paired with a battery storage system provided by Tesla. It would be located about 12 miles off Martha’s Vineyard and generate enough energy to power about 70,000 homes. The Providence-based company already operates a small wind farm off Block Island.
Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski said the company could start with a smaller project or build a larger version if other New England states like Massachusetts buy into the idea.
“That’s a serious advantage of offshore wind. We can build to the exact size utilities need,” he said.
Baker has described the law as a “big milestone” for all of New England, by helping ensure that future energy needs are met.
Although the bids were developed in partnership with the state, contracts will be signed with the states’ electric utilities.
The bids will be evaluated by a team that includes the electric distribution companies and the state Department of Energy Resources.
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