Massachusetts: Baker-Polito Administration Announces Historic Selection of Offshore Wind Projects to Bring Clean, Affordable Power to the Commonwealth

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BOSTON — The Baker-Polito Administration today announced the selection of two offshore wind projects, Mayflower Wind and Vineyard Wind, to move forward to contract negotiations to provide a combined total of 1,600 megawatts (MW) of clean and affordable energy to Massachusetts ratepayers. The selected projects, in combination with two previous projects procured since Governor Charlie Baker signed comprehensive energy legislation in 2016, bring the total amount of offshore wind procured by the Administration to approximately 3,200 MW, enough clean energy to power 1.6 million homes. Today's announcement, made by Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides at the Wind Technology Testing Center in Charlestown, also advances critical economic development priorities for the Commonwealth while securing significant clean, affordable, and resilient energy for Massachusetts residents and businesses.

"Massachusetts has been a national leader in the offshore wind industry and today's announcement is another major milestone with the selection of two projects that double the amount of offshore wind power secured by the Commonwealth," said Governor Charlie Baker. "The bipartisan energy legislation our Administration worked with the Legislature to pass in 2016 has unlocked record low pricing and significant economic investment through three separate procurements, and the projects selected today further illustrate the potential offshore wind presents for our climate goals, our local workforce and our port communities."

"This historic procurement builds on our administration's continued investments in climate and clean energy policies that have helped reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions in the Commonwealth," said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. "These procurements have increased the emphasis on environmental justice and workforce diversity, maintained cost-effectiveness and increased the size and scale of the solicitation, securing significant benefits for Massachusetts ratepayers."

The selected projects include a 400 MW proposal from Mayflower Wind and a 1,200 MW proposal from Vineyard Wind. The Mayflower Wind and Vineyard Wind bids were selected for contract negotiations based on criteria established under a Request for Proposal (RFP) released by the Administration in May 2021. In this procurement, the Administration bids included enhanced criteria for economic evaluation of the benefits for ratepayers, the project's ability to foster employment and economic development in the Commonwealth, the project's environmental impacts and impacts on Environmental Justice (EJ) communities, the extent to which a project demonstrates that it avoids or mitigates impacts to regional commercial fisheries, and the bidder's proposed plans to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion as part of the project. As a result of a stringent review, a portfolio of proposals from both bidders was determined to provide the greatest overall value to Massachusetts customers by delivering a combined total of approximately 1,600 MW of offshore wind capacity per year while providing substantial ratepayer benefits.

During the bidding process, both Mayflower Wind and Vineyard Wind proposed wind energy at a competitive price and with substantial economic development opportunities for the Commonwealth. By selecting a portfolio of projects from both bidders, the Commonwealth will secure impressive investments in job creation and economic development. Bidders also responded to new provisions in the solicitation, included by the Administration for the first time, that required plans to support diversity, equity and inclusion, including Workforce Diversity and Supplier Diversity Program plans. Bidders were also required to describe proposed strategies to actively promote access to employment and contracting opportunities for minority, women, veterans, LGBT and persons with disabilities. Bidders also included assessments of impacts, both positive and negative, on EJ populations in the Commonwealth, and plans for investments and engagement with affected communities. The Department of Energy Resources (DOER) will work with the winning bidders to track and report on progress towards their commitments regarding economic development, environmental justice, and diversity, equity and inclusion.

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"In structuring the Commonwealth's third offshore wind procurement, the Baker-Polito Administration focused on delivering enhanced economic benefits for Massachusetts residents, affordable pricing for ratepayers, and the development of a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce, and the projects selected through this competitive process deliver on those critical priorities," said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. "Offshore wind is the centerpiece of Massachusetts' climate goals and our effort to achieve Net Zero emissions in 2050, and this successful procurement will build on our national clean energy leadership and the continued development of a robust offshore wind supply chain in the Commonwealth."

"Commonwealth Wind is more than just one project, it is part of an effort to build a clean energy infrastructure including the transformation of ports around our state as well as jobs and training that will support this clean energy industry decades to come," said President and CEO of Avangrid Renewables Offshore, Bill White. "We are proud that Commonwealth Wind will help realize the vision of Governor Baker and the leaders of the Massachusetts Legislature in pioneering this new American industry."

"We talk often of the jobs created directly by offshore wind but just as important to the success of this industry are the jobs that can and must be created in both the US supply chain and in the overall service of the industry," said Lars T. Pedersen, CEO of Vineyard Wind. "Commonwealth Wind builds on both of these goals by expanding the base of the industry to both the South Coast and the North Shore including bringing the first tier 1 manufacturer to the state, in addition to investing millions of dollars to increase diversity and inclusion, not to mention innovation.  We're very proud of this project and truly honored to be selected by the Baker-Polito Administration."

"This new agreement for an additional 400MW includes over $42 million in economic development initiatives across the South Coast region," said Michael Brown, Chief  Executive Officer of Mayflower Wind Energy LLC. "In addition to creating approximately 14,000 jobs over the life of the project, we also will build our Operations and Maintenance port in Fall River and work with Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding of Somerset to design and build our crew transfer vessel. All of this is on top of the $77.5 million in benefits expected from the first 800 MW of the project. This win is the result of the extraordinary collaboration between our team and the many communities and stakeholders we have worked with over the past six months. It also reaffirms the quality and competitiveness of our bid which delivers immense community value and low-cost renewable energy."

"Today marks another exciting milestone in our journey to produce clean, affordable energy for our residents while doing our part to address the climate crisis," said Senate President Karen E. Spilka. "I am proud of the efforts Massachusetts continues to make in fostering our green economy. I am equally excited to take on new challenges in the fight to reduce harmful carbon emissions. I also want to congratulate Vineyard Wind and Mayflower Wind on their successful bidding process."

"Today's announcement moves Massachusetts one step closer to achieving the ambitious offshore wind energy goals that the Legislature is continuously advancing," said Speaker of the House Ronald J. Mariano. "We look forward to continuing our progress in making Massachusetts a national leader in clean energy."

"This procurement will be crucial in helping the Commonwealth reach its goal of contracting for a total of 5,600 MW of offshore wind energy and reaching the net-zero goals established by the Legislature earlier this year in the Roadmap Bill," said Representative Jeffrey N. Roy, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy. "Thanks to the leadership of Speaker Mariano and my legislative colleagues, Massachusetts will remain competitive in the burgeoning offshore wind industry and our continued clean energy progress will be tied to progress in economic development, environmental justice communities, and diversity, equity and inclusion within the offshore wind industry."

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"This round sees a wise balance struck between economic development, on the one hand, and protection against excessively high monthly electric bills for families, on the other," said Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change Chairman Michael J. Barrett. "Going forward, this can serve as a model for us.  So today's announcement is important in its own right and important as a valuable precedent."

"Offshore wind electricity production is a critical component of our state's strategy to gain energy independence and achieve very ambitious carbon emission reduction targets," said Senator Minority Leader Bruce Tarr. "The selection of these two projects signals not only progress and commitment toward those goals, but also a robust field of producers who are willing to supply our needs on competitive terms."

As part of the Administration's RFP drafting process, for the first time under a Section 83C procurement, the Distribution Companies and DOER released the draft RFP for public review and received numerous public and stakeholder comments. The RFP built on the Commonwealth's previous national leadership for offshore wind procurements, and included changes made in response to the public comments, consultations with state agencies, and lessons learned from prior solicitations. The RFP was also amended to address recommendations DOER made at the conclusion of its offshore wind energy transmission investigation.

The selection of a portfolio of projects from Mayflower Wind and Vineyard Wind concludes a rigorous solicitation and evaluation by DOER and the Commonwealth's Electric Distribution Companies: Eversource, National Grid and Unitil. Additionally, the solicitation was monitored by an Independent Evaluator that was jointly chosen by DOER and the Office of the Attorney General and was responsible for overseeing the process to ensure that all proposals were evaluated in a fair and nondiscriminatory manner.

The selection of a 1,600 MW portfolio of projects represents substantial progress towards the Commonwealth's current authorization of 5,600 MW of offshore wind energy. The first procurement resulted in executed and approved contracts with the Vineyard Wind 1 project for 800 MW, the first large-scale offshore wind procurements in the United States. The second procurement resulted in executed and approved contracts with the Mayflower Wind Low-Cost Energy project for 804 MW of offshore wind. The combined energy output of the selected and contracted offshore wind projects represents approximately 25 percent of total Massachusetts annual electricity demand.

"Massachusetts has pioneered the offshore wind development on the East Coast and today's announcement marks our third commercial-scale offshore wind procurement off the Commonwealth's shores and highlights the diverse economic and environmental benefits from this resource," said Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Patrick Woodcock. "Cost-effective deployment of clean electricity is imperative to reach our long-term climate requirements and we are encouraged that this portfolio of projects build upon previous leadership by enhancing economic development benefits, improving equity and environmental justice within project plans, and maximizing the utilization of our existing transmission system."

The final acceptance of the bid(s) and award of contract is conditional upon successful contract negotiations between the parties and regulatory approval at the DPU. At the time of contract filing with the DPU, a public filing will be provided by the Electric Distribution Companies detailing the evaluation process. Separately, the Independent Evaluator will prepare and submit a detailed public report on the evaluation process and outcome. Final project selection as a result of successful contract negotiations will be made public following submittal for regulatory approval. More information on the selected project, process, and timeline can be found here.

In March of 2021, Governor Baker signed comprehensive climate change legislation that increased the Administration's authorization to solicit an additional 2400 Megawatts of offshore wind, bringing the state's total commitment to 5,600 Megawatts.

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