Three Massachusetts utilities, in coordination with the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER), issued a request for proposals on May 7, 2021 seeking bids for offshore wind projects. The utilities are seeking to procure between 400 megawatts (MW) and 1.6 gigawatts (GW), and developers are permitted to submit applications for projects between 200 MW and 1.6 GW.
Applications are due in September 2021, and the selection process is expected to be completed in December 2021. Once the utilities have selected their preferred projects, the utilities will negotiate and enter into long-term purchase agreements with the selected developers for the generation from the projects, which will be subject to Massachusetts Department of Utilities (DPU) approval. The bid schedule anticipates that the purchase agreements will be executed in March 2022 and submitted to the DPU for approval in April 2022.
Massachusetts is one of several Atlantic Coast states aggressively pursuing offshore wind growth. Massachusetts has already approved two offshore wind projects – the 800 MW Vineyard Wind project and the 804 MW Mayflower wind project. On May 11, 2021, Vineyard Wind became the first commercial-scale offshore wind project in the United States to receive final approval from the US Department of Interior to begin construction. Massachusetts also recently enacted climate legislation that requires DOER to set policies that will achieve at least net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 (or in no case higher than 85% of Massachusetts’ 1990 emission levels), and specifically authorizes the procurement of up to 2.4 GW of offshore wind energy by 2027.
New Jersey and New York have also sought to expand their offshore wind project portfolios in the past year. New Jersey has a goal to achieve 7.5 GW off offshore wind generation by 2035. New Jersey has approved one 1.1 GW project to-date, which is under development, and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) is currently evaluating proposals that were submitted as part of a solicitation targeting the development of between 1.2 GW and 2.4 GW of offshore wind generation. The BPU is expected to announce the winning project(s) in June 2021. New York also has multiple offshore wind projects under development. The state approved two projects totaling approximately 1.7 GW in 2019 and in 2020, and provisionally approved two other projects totaling approximately 2.5 GW.
Offshore wind development in the region is expected to receive greater federal support as well. One of the Biden-Harris administration’s early actions was issuance of a January 27, 2021 Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, which included a provision directing the Secretary of Interior to review the offshore wind siting and permitting process to identify steps to increase renewable energy production, with the goal of doubling offshore wind by 2030. The Biden-Harris administration also issued an offshore wind plan on March 29, 2021 that, among other things, announced a federal target to deploy 30 GW of offshore wind in the United States by 2030.