Cape Cod Times: “Offshore wind projects make headway” By Mary Ann Bragg, Apr 4, 2018 –
HYANNIS — There are two chances on the horizon for the public to dig into the offshore wind energy plans of Vineyard Wind, with federal and state regulatory reviews underway.
At the same time, Vineyard Wind, Bay State Wind and Deepwater Wind — all of which hope to build wind farms off Martha’s Vineyard and sell electricity from the turbines to Massachusetts electricity distributors — are moving forward with regional collaborations they say will result in community benefits.
Vineyard Wind has announced a collaboration with the nonprofit Citizens Energy Corp. to create a fund that would contribute $1 million each year for 15 years for battery energy storage and solar projects in towns that host the offshore wind project. Those communities would include New Bedford, towns on Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, Barnstable, Yarmouth, and towns across Bristol County.
“We have a deep commitment to helping households in need and advancing the cause of renewable energy,” Citizens Energy CEO Peter Smith said. “Our partnership with Vineyard Wind allows us to accomplish both.”
The fund will be used to create a revolving loan fund for energy efficiency improvements to multifamily, low-income housing, and to give ongoing credits to low-income residents’ electricity bills and backup power and cost savings for public buildings, according to the company.
Citizens Energy was founded in 1979 by Joseph P. Kennedy II, who has served as the organization’s chairman and president since 1998.
The three offshore energy projects in December bid on state contracts to sell up to 800 megawatts of offshore wind energy. Although the companies had expected to hear on April 23 whether they would move to a negotiation stage, that deadline has been postponed because of demands on the state’s proposal evaluation teams and due to canceled meetings because of winter storms.
Gov. Charlie Baker said Wednesday during a meeting with the Times that the delay would likely be “weeks,” at least partially because of another of the state’s green energy proposals and the related decision to drop the chosen bidder in that case, Northern Pass Transmission. That project, which Eversource had proposed, faces stiff headwinds after being rejected by New Hampshire regulators.
“These are really complicated and big procurements and the folks that are working them on the … utility side want to make sure they get as much of this right as they possibly can,” Baker said, adding that everyone was surprised at the number of bids the state received from reputable and credible companies.
Bay State Wind, which is a partnership of Orsted and Eversource, has entered into an agreement with the steel pipe manufacturing company EEW, which is based in Germany, to open and staff a facility in Massachusetts to manufacture offshore wind components, in cooperation with Gulf Island Fabrication from Houston. The collaboration will create new and specialized steel manufacturing capabilities in the U.S., according to Bay State Wind. The site of the new manufacturing facility has not been determined, but would add 500 construction jobs each year with up to 1,200 additional indirect jobs each year, according to project officials. Welders, blaster painters, steel fabricators and other associated trades would be hired for the construction jobs.
“We regard these first steps as a starting point of a long-term and sustainable approach in the U.S. offshore wind industry,” EEW manager partner Christoph Schorge said.
Deepwater Wind has also begun to identify possible locations for the assembly of its wind turbine foundations. The assembly of the 1,500-ton steel foundations to support the turbine towers is expected to create 300 direct jobs and another 600 not directly related to the construction, the company said. Deepwater Wind is also seeking proposals from Massachusetts boat builders to build and operate vessels over the life of the wind farm and plans to use a New Bedford waterfront terminal for construction and staging operations, with about 700 jobs to support construction.
For upcoming public hearings on Vineyard Wind in Hyannis, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has announced its intent to begin preparing an environmental impact statement for the project’s construction and operations plan. Vineyard Wind proposes an 800 megawatt project built in two 400 megawatt phases, up to five years apart, with a maximum of 106 wind turbines with a capacity of eight to 10 megawatts.
Of the three companies, Vineyard Wind is the furthest along in permitting for the project. Unlike the other two projects, Vineyard Wind intends to bring its transmission cables from its wind farm onto land in either Yarmouth or Barnstable and connect to the state’s existing electrical grid via a substation off Independence Drive. That cable connection plan is under review by the state’s Energy Facilities Siting Board.
Reprinted via the Cape Cod Times, which is not affiliated with the Alliance.