Slow Progress For Massachusetts Offshore Wind Project

The current population of the state of Massachusetts is estimated to be 6.93 million. In January 2019, state utilities used natural gas (68.4%), nuclear energy (18.6%) and renewable energy (12.9%) to generate electricity. Hydropower and solar are the primary types of renewable energy.

Massachusetts use of nuclear energy contributes to state’s high electricity costs. In January 2019, the average cost of electricity in Massachusetts was U.S. 22.6 ¢ per kWh, which is the 3rd most expensive price in the United States. The average price of electricity in the United States is 12.5 ¢ per kWh. Concerns about climate change have prompted Massachusetts legislators to accelerate the moved from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

In August 2018, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law a bill promoting clean energy in the state. The bill mandates Massachusetts electric utilities have 35% renewable energy sources by 2030. The bill further mandates the following:

1. Authorizes adding up to 1,600 MW from offshore wind farms.

2. Utilities must measure how much natural gas is leaking from pipelines.

3. Establishes a “clean peak” standard, requiring utilities to use renewable energy during peak power periods.

4. Prohibits utilities from applying a special charge on rooftop solar owners.

The development of utility scale offshore wind farms is a key component in Massachusetts energy program. Vineyard Wind, an offshore wind project off the coast of Massachusetts continues to make advances in the permitting process and anticipates beginning construction in 2019. Vineyard Farm will have 800 MW capacity and will be located 14 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.

The permitting process for any offshore wind project requires rigorous environmental studies. One of the environmental concerns was whether construction would interfere with the migration and mating of the North Atlantic right whales. Vineyard Wind reached agreement with environmentalists to pause construction during winter and spring when whales are in this area.

Vineyard Wind is an offshore wind development company, headquartered in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The company is owned by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Avangrid Renewables. Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners is a fund management company, headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark. Avangrid Renewables is a major developer and operator of wind energy projects and is headquartered in Orange, Connecticut.

Europe has been aggressively developing offshore wind projects for over a decade. Offshore wind has proven to be a major source of reliable, sustainable energy that can cost effectively replace fossil fuel power plants. The United States has significantly greater offshore wind energy potential than the continent of Europe, In my opinion, offshore wind can replace fossil fuel power plants along America’s coastline.

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