BOSTON (SHNS) – The two companies already chosen to develop offshore wind projects for Massachusetts were the only two to submit proposals for the state’s third offshore wind solicitation, each offering up to 1,200 megawatts of power generation and various economic development-related sweeteners.
The state’s third competitive solicitation attracted bids from just Vineyard Wind and Mayflower Wind, a smaller pool of bids than House Speaker Ron Mariano and others were hoping for. Both developers submitted bids that maxed out at 1,200 MW of capacity, 25 percent short of the 1,600 MW upper limit that the state’s solicitation sought but still 50 percent more than either project currently under development.
Though key details like the price of the cleaner power and the number of turbines planned remain under wraps until later stages of the selection process, the two developers vying for the work outlined Thursday what they think are the benefits of their bids.
If one of its multiple proposals is chosen, Mayflower Wind said it would set up an operations and maintenance port in Fall River and spend up to $81 million for supply chain support, training and education, port investments, and diversity and inclusion programs on the South Coast.
“The bids we submitted were formulated after months of conversations with local stakeholders who shared with us their vision for the future of the offshore wind industry. We took those conversations very seriously and developed packages that incorporate their feedback and support each of their diverse groups,” Mayflower Wind CEO Michael Brown said.
A new Mayflower Wind operations and maintenance base at the Borden & Remington complex in Fall River would be in addition to the economic development spending proposed in each bid, the company said.
Senate Ways and Means Chairman Michael Rodrigues of Westport said Mayflower’s proposal to base its operations and maintenance efforts out of Fall River “is representative of the tangible economic benefit that our region has been seeking from our Commonwealth’s growing offshore wind industry.”
Vineyard Wind said last week that it had submitted two proposals dubbed “Commonwealth Wind,” offering projects of 800 MW and 1,200 MW which the developer suggested would lead to thousands of jobs and would include “substantial commitments to environmental justice communities.”
“We have used all of our experience with our existing portfolio to put together an incredibly strong proposal that, if selected, will ensure Massachusetts benefits significantly from its first-mover status in pioneering offshore wind at scale in the U.S.,” Vineyard Wind CEO Lars Pedersen said. “We have deliberately named our proposals ‘Commonwealth Wind’ to underline the broad benefit of affordable energy to the entire Commonwealth as well as the significant economic benefits that will be delivered to multiple regions of Massachusetts.”
In the public version of its bid documents, which are heavily redacted, Vineyard Wind says that its project “presents a generational opportunity for Massachusetts to realize the economic promise of offshore wind and position itself as a pillar of the nation’s newest industry” though most of the page leading up to that sentence is blacked out, as is the page and a half that follows it.
The evaluation team is expected to select a project for contract negotiations by Dec. 17, a contract is expected to be negotiated by March 28, 2022, and a final contract is to be submitted for Department of Public Utilities approval by April 27, 2022.
Vineyard Wind’s bid documents, as available to the public, do not appear to make mention of the fact that its second project for Massachusetts, if chosen, would have different corporate overlords than the Vineyard Wind I project expected to come online in 2023.
Vineyard Wind is a joint venture of Avangrid Renewables and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP). On Tuesday, Avangrid and CIP announced “a restructuring of their Vineyard Wind joint venture” that will see Avangrid Renewables pay $167.5 million and assume full ownership of the lease area that would host the Commonwealth Wind project and the Park City Wind project under development for Connecticut.
CIP would take full ownership of a separate lease area capable of generating more than 2,500 MW of power and begin to develop that for its own projects.
Vineyard Wind I will continue to be developed as a 50-50 joint venture between Avangrid Renewables and CIP, but the restructuring will give Avangrid Renewables an option “to gain operational control” of the wind farm once it is up and running, the companies said.
The restructuring, which is subject to the agreement of regulators at the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and Connecticut distribution companies, is expected to close in about six months.
For some people, the results of the third offshore wind solicitation were disappointing. The speaker of the House said this week that he charged Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee Chairman Jeff Roy with producing legislation to “help us restore our place in this whole competitive market.”
“We had a tremendous advantage and it is beginning to slip,” Mariano said during a boat tour of the Block Island Wind Farm on Tuesday, citing the Massachusetts requirement that the price of each project be lower than the price of the project that preceded it as one aspect that might have kept others from bidding.
The elimination of the price cap, as Mariano called for, may not be enough to alone generate significantly more interest in Massachusetts’ offshore wind solicitations. In the middle of the state’s second solicitation, in 2019, Gov. Charlie Baker signed a bill temporarily suspending the price cap and just three bids came in that round — from Mayflower Wind, Vineyard Wind and Bay State Wind.
And the universe of companies that hold leases for offshore wind sites off New England is somewhat limited, too — Vineyard Wind, Mayflower Wind, Equinor, which already has steep commitments to New York, and Ã˜rsted/Eversource, which was behind the Bay State Wind proposal.
The Ã˜rsted and Eversource joint venture said this week that it decided to take a pass on the latest Massachusetts solicitation “[a]fter carefully considering the request for proposal issued by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and reviewing our current activity in the U.S. offshore wind industry.”