PRESS: MASSLIVE, SHIRA SCHOENBERG
As Kinder Morgan withdraws gas pipeline application, Massachusetts House proposes wind hydropower energy bill
An energy bill released Monday by key lawmakers in the Massachusetts House would require the state’s utilities to enter into long-term contracts to buy more offshore wind and hydroelectric power.
“Obviously, the hope is trying to contain further costs and most importantly, the need to change the direction in terms of where our energy sources would be coming from now that former sources are going offline,” said House Speaker Robert DeLeo, D-Winthrop.
Watch Gov. Baker & Sen. Stan Rosenberg Talk Energy Bill
PRESS: SOUTHCOAST TODAY, MIKE LAWRENCE
Offshore Wind gets boost in energy proposal as advocates tout impact on state, SouthCoast
Long-awaited energy legislation introduced Monday on Beacon Hill includes a substantial requirement for offshore wind power, signaling a potential kick start for an industry viewed by many as vital to New Bedford’s future.
State Rep. Patricia Haddad, a Somerset Democrat who sponsored an early version of the bill and has pushed for offshore wind legislation for the past two years, called the proposal’s 1,200-megawatt (MW) purchase requirement “very workable.”
“It signals that there will be an offshore wind industry in Massachusetts,” Haddad said.
PRESS: COMMONWEALTH MAGAZINE, BRUCE MOHL
Energy bill includes offshore wind , hydro
A house committee released a long-awaited energy bill on Monday that calls for the state’s utilities to negotiate long-term contracts for large amounts of offshore wind and Canadian hydroelectricity, although the hydroelectric portion of the proposal is half the size Gov. Charlie Baker had sought.
The bill, dubbed “an act to promote energy diversity,” calls for the procurement of a total of 1,200 megawatts of offshore wind capacity by the middle of 2027. The first 15- to 20-year contract for 400 megawatts would go out no later than June 30, 2017, and would be restricted to developers operating on the outer continental shelf in two areas designated in 2012 by the US Department of the Interior. Cape Wind officials confirmed the wording of the bill would prevent them from competing for the contracts.
PRESS: THE BOSTON GLOBE, JON CHESTO
Energy bill leaves Cape Wind unplugged
Leaders in the House of Representatives on Monday unveiled their proposal to spur a new offshore wind industry through a system of long-term contracts, but the bill is written to preclude one well-known developer from bidding.
PRESS: THE HERALD NEWS, MICHAEL HOLTZMAN
Rep. Haddad ‘thrilled’ about about wind-energy plan’s inclusion in state House bill
Bringing an offshore wind industry to the state and South Coast is moving full-steam ahead. And state Rep. Patricia Haddad, the Somerset legislator who initiated that portion of the “act to promote energy diversity,” couldn’t be more thrilled as the bill was shifting out of committee Monday.
Bill H-2881 calls for production of 1,200 megawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2027.
PRESS: STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE, MATT MURPHY
Guv Praises House Energy Bill, Downing Calls for More Change
The first draft of a long-awaited energy bill from House leaders delivered on the expectation of a proposed procurement for large-scale hydro and offshore wind power to meet the state’s need for clean, reliable energy, but met significant push back Monday over its limited scope.
The bill would require utilities to solicit and purchase through long-term contracts of 15 to20 years roughly 1,200 megawatts of hydropower and 1,200 megawatts of offshore wind power.
By limiting eligible offshore wind projects to those operating in a “competitively solicited federal lease area,” several environmental activists said the bill would exclude Cape Wind, which was once supposed to be the country’s first offshore wind farm but has been clinging to the hope of a helping hand from lawmakers to get financing for the project back on track. The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, which opposes Cape Wind, declined to comment.
Offshore wind developers DONG Energy, Deepwater Wind and OffshoreMW could all be eligible to bid for the contracts, according to industry experts.
“The wind-hydro combination is a home run for the Commonwealth. This bill is bold: affordable,clean energy for years to come,” Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski said.
Said DONG Energy North American General Manager Thomas Brostrom: “We commend the Massachusetts House of Representatives for including offshore wind in their legislation to move towards a clean energy future. This promising initial step will help create a viable offshore wind industry here in the Commonwealth, which will bring reliable, cost-effective clean energy to Massachusetts’ households and businesses.”
However, the lack of consensus among energy industry stakeholders, environmental advocates and lawmakers over how to proceed with energy policy threatens to complicate efforts to complete legislation before formal session end in two months.
Gov. Charlie Baker, who filed his own legislation last summer calling for the solicitation of up to 2,400 megawatts of hydropower, said his “only concern at this point” is that the “clock is ticking on the session.” Baker did not voice any objection to House leaders proposing to add an offshore wind component and cut by half his proposed solicitation for hydropower, which would likely come from Canada.
“I would describe it at this point as a very strong bill that’s built around the idea of expanding our portfolio, diversifying our energy sources and incorporating big slugs of hydro and wind into our portfolio here in Massachusetts and across New England and I think that’s a good thing,” Baker said after meeting with House and Senate leaders on Monday.
While the bill includes a requirement to purchase the new renewable energy resources, the Department of Public Utilities could cancel any contract if it failed to meet established criteria, including enhanced electricity reliability, reduced winter price spikes, and cost effectiveness.
“I think we’re going to be OK on price. I think it will work itself out, and DPU and DOER are going to be up to the task to figure this out,” said Rep. Thomas Golden of Lowell, co-chair of the Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee, which produced the bill.
Sen. Benjamin Downing, the Senate co-chair of the committee, said he saw the bill only hours before copies began circulating among members of the press and the advocacy community.
Predicting significant revisions should the bill reach the Senate unchanged, Downing said the House blueprint falls short of the type of comprehensive energy policy Massachusetts needs moving into the future.
“It’s a couple of the core pieces I think everyone agrees ought to be a part of a comprehensive energy bill, but I think it’s by no means complete or comprehensive. It’s an offshore wind and hydro bill, both of which are necessary, but I don’t think taken together are sufficient to meet our needs,” Downing told the News Service.
Downing said the Senate members of the committee will most likely either vote against the bill or reserve their rights as it moves out of committee. The Pittsfield Democrat said the procurement of 2,400 megawatts of renewable energy is “well within the range” of what had been discussed prior, but said the bill’s scope is too narrow.
“If the goal is to address climate and cost, then you can’t put forward a bill that omits building on the progress we’ve made on energy efficiency,” Downing said. “We certainly need to do more and have a more concerted strategy on storage. I applaud what the Baker administration has done, but there’s more that we can do than we are currently doing.”
Both Golden and House Speaker Robert DeLeo suggested there would time for members to weigh in with additional ideas before the bill either moves through the House Ways and Means Committee or when it reaches the floor next month for debate.
“I’m enthusiastic about the piece of legislation. I think putting the emphasis on hydro and wind is the right way to go. I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of discussion, maybe one or two amendments, but we’re looking forward to getting it done,” DeLeo said.
With more than 10,000 megawatts of reliable power generation from fossil fuel plants and Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station due to come offline in the coming years, lawmakers have been weighing the options to replace that output with renewable sources that would also help the state meet its carbon emissions reductions goals without driving up cost.
Eversource Energy, one the state’s largest power distributors to be impacted by the bill, congratulated House leaders on the proposal.
“We commend lawmakers for advancing legislation that will help the commonwealth meet its clean energy commitments and lead to a more diverse energy portfolio, while also being mindful about costs to customers,” said Eversource spokesman Michael Durand.
But the New England Power Generators Association, which has been a vocal critic of Baker’spush for hydropower, questioned the move to push ahead with hydro and wind procurements without knowing the full impact of Supreme Judicial Court decision last week that found current state policies insufficient to comply with the 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act.
The Department of Environmental Protection, under the decision, was required to come up with new regulations that apply to the broad array of energy sectors operating in Massachusetts.
“The proposal would carve up one third of the Massachusetts electricity marketplace into decades long contracts that has the potential to dramatically increase electricity costs for consumers. This is occurring at the very moment consumers are realizing lower electricity rates thanks to fierce competition in the wholesale market with billions of dollars of new plants being developed here in Massachusetts,” Dolan said in a statement.
Other environmental groups criticized the House proposal as too “timid.”
“We support the inclusion of off-shore wind and hydro, but this proposed legislation does not solve our energy or economic needs for tomorrow or the decades ahead. If we have an energy capacity issue in New England (as the utilities keep telling us), the legislature must do more,” said George Bachrach, president of the Environmental League of Massachusetts.
Bachrach called for at least 2,000 megawatts of offshore wind to be included in the bill, and said he would also like lawmakers to revisit the solar caps, which are already being tested.
Golden said the House bill does not revisit solar incentives, and Downing said it would be difficult for the Senate to reopen that debate if the House didn’t address solar because there are so many other priorities to work through.
Golden also noted that utilities would be allowed under their procurement of hydropower to include land-based wind in their mix to get to 1,200 megawatts if they choose.
Despite his policy difference with the House, Downing did say he still believes there was enough time left in the session to reach consensus between the branches and pass a bill that Baker would sign.
Referring to the national political conventions in late July that prompted House and Senate leaders to schedule sessions around lawmakers’ potential travel plans, Downing said, “As much as I wish that the House had chosen to act earlier if they were going to wait and act in this manner, I still think we have plenty of time. Some people might be going to Cleveland and Philly,but I’m going to be here and will be ready work.”
Conservation Law Foundation staff attorney Caitlin Peale Sloan said the House bill was “not strong enough,” as she advocated for more wind resources.
“We need a bill that lives up to its name – An Act to Promote Energy Diversity,” Peale Sloan said. “This bill is weighted too heavily in favor of imported hydropower. Onshore and offshore Massachusetts. As dirty fossil fuels phase out, we need clean local energy sources to keep the lights on.”
PRESS RELEASE: OFFSHORE WIND: MASSACHUSETTS
House Energy Bill marks New Era for Massachusetts Offshore Wind Leadership
Boston, Massachusetts- Offshore Wind: Massachusetts, a broad coalition dedicated to the establishment of an offshore wind industry in the Commonwealth, said the House energy bill marks the beginning of a new era.
“We want to thank Rep. Tom Golden, who chairs the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utility and Energy, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo “for their visionary leadership on this historic bill that will transform Massachusetts and deliver a cleaner, greener future for generations to come, ” said Matthew A. Morrissey, Managing Director. Morrissey recognized the efforts of Representative Pat Haddad, the initial sponsor of offshore wind. According to Morrissey, “We owe Representative Haddad a great debt of gratitude for her vision and persistence in supporting this industry”.
“Offshore Wind: Massachusetts is looks forward to continuing to work with the House and Senate to fashion a final bill that will enable Massachusetts to make use of one of its greatest resources — abundant and reliable wind that will power a new industry and benefit our citizens for the rest of this century and beyond.”
“The winds off our coast allowed our mariners, our whalers and our commercial fishermen to deliver prosperity to the citizens of the Commonwealth for hundreds of years, and it is entirely fitting that we turn to those offshore breezes again as the source of a new indigenous power supply that will deliver vast amounts of safe, clean, reliable and affordable energy.”
“We look forward to continuing to work with Gov. Baker and his team to establish Massachusetts as the national leader in offshore wind. Being first in line will give the Commonwealth a great advantage, establishing Massachusetts as the epicenter of a new American industry that is already transforming the globe.” Massachusetts. As dirty fossil fuels phase out, we need clean local energy sources to keep the lights on.”
PRESS RELEASE: NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION
“House leaders have sent a clear message that it’s a new day for energy in Massachusetts – all new electricity has to be clean. A requirement for offshore wind power is an essential component of a sound energy policy for the Commonwealth. The question now is whether the commitment will be strong enough to bring our largest untapped clean energy source online at the scale needed to maximize its potential. The National Wildlife Federation will continue urging legislators to up the offshore wind requirement to at least 2,000 megawatts, the amount researchers say is necessary to fully unleash the transformative economic power of this clean, wildlife-friendly, made-in-Massachusetts power source.”
“A strong commitment to offshore wind is also smart politics. Massachusetts residents strongly support adding offshore wind to our energy portfolio, with 78 percent of voters supporting offshore wind, according to a recent Target Smart survey. With 2016 on pace to eclipse 2015 as the hottest year on record and Global Warming Solutions Act targets looming, we can’t wait to invest in this massive, local source of carbon-free electricity.”
A commitment to at least 2,000 MW of offshore wind can lower previously projected costs for offshore wind by as much as 55 percent in the next decade, according to a study released by
University of Delaware’s Special Initiative on Offshore Wind in March:
PRESS RELEASE: NEW BEDFORD WIND ENERGY CENTER
Paul Vigeant, the Director of the New Bedford Wind Energy Center and Vice President for Workforce Development at Bristol Community College, praised the energy legislation, which calls for 1,200 MW of offshore wind power. He said the establishment of an offshore wind industry “holds great promise for New Bedford and other coastal cities that have not shared in the same prosperity enjoyed by Boston and its suburbs.”
“New Bedford was home to the whaling industry in the 19th century, when it could rightly call itself the city that lit the world. This historic legislation will enable New Bedford to claim its place as the epicenter of a new industry that promises to deliver vast amounts of clean, affordable and renewable power, along with thousands of new jobs.”
“We are uniquely positioned and well-prepared to serve as a home port for the first large-scale offshore wind project in the United States. The Port of New Bedford is one of the best-equipped seaports on the East Coast, and we are home to the only marine commerce terminal designed specifically to handle these massive wind turbines and their components.”
“We have a skilled, experienced marine workforce, along with governmental, educational and business leadership that will be ready to serve this new industry from day one.”
“Being first in line will give us a great advantage, establishing Massachusetts and New Bedford as home to a new American industry that promises a safer, healthier future for this century and beyond.”