Mass. to double offshore wind procurements and Weaver Wind Approved

Long-term contracts raise risks

Bruce Mohl May 31, 2019

THE BAKER ADMINISTRATION is pushing ahead with plans to double the procurement of offshore wind power over the next several years, a move that will increase wind’s share of the state’s energy portfolio to 30 percent while locking Massachusetts into long-term contracts for nearly two thirds of its electricity.

The announcement was another sign of just how bullish the state is on offshore wind, but it also highlighted some of the risks involved in negotiating 20-year contracts directly with electricity suppliers instead of relying on the region’s competitive wholesale electricity market. Right now offshore wind appears to be a great fit in terms of price and environmental benefits. But if new technologies emerge in the near future driving down the price of solar or other emerging renewables, ratepayers could be stuck paying above-market prices for their power.

Legislation approved on Beacon Hill in 2016 authorized the state’s utilities, acting on behalf of their ratepayers, to negotiate contracts for 1,600 megawatts of electricity. The first contract for 800 megawatts was awarded to Vineyard Wind last year and another 800 megawatt procurement is expected to be awarded by the end of this year. Under legislation approved last year, the state Department of Energy Resources was required to analyze the market for offshore wind and decide whether it made sense to double-down and procure another 1,600 megawatts.

The report released on Friday concludes it makes sense to do procurements for the additional 1,600 megawatts in 2022, 2024, and again in 2026 if necessary. The report also recommends conducting a solicitation in 2020 to see if it would make sense to construct an independently built transmission line that would serve all of the new wind farms. Until now, wind farm operators have preferred to build their own individual transmission lines to shore, but state officials think there may be environmental benefits from minimizing the number of transmission lines as the industry expands.

The state report portrays offshore wind as a very good deal for the state, providing renewable power at an attractive price point. The report said offshore wind farms, on an annual basis, operate at 50 percent of their capacity (meaning they generate half the electricity they are capable of generating because the wind isn’t always blowing ) and tend to reliably generate power during the winter months when natural gas for power plants can sometimes be in short supply.

A chart in the report noted the Vineyard Wind contract price was 6.5 cents per kilowatt hour in 2017 dollars, slightly higher than the price of Quebec hydro-electricity being purchased in a separate procurement and double the price of electricity produced with natural gas. The offshore wind price was half the price of the state’s least-subsidized solar power option. The report estimated the contracts for an additional 1,600 megawatts of electricity will save the state’s ratepayers between $670 million and $1.27 billion over the life of the 20-year contracts.

Patrick Woodcock, the deputy secretary of energy, said it’s unclear whether the energy savings would continue if more than 3,200 megawatts of offshore wind electricity were procured. He said the analysis by the Department of Energy Resources indicated savings from offshore wind would begin to diminish at some point.

The report also raised concerns about the state’s growing reliance on long-term contracts for renewable energy. The operator of the region’s power grid currently runs two energy markets (one day to day and the other longer-term) that in broad terms pit power generators against each other, with business flowing to those able to deliver electricity at the lowest price. The markets have had difficulty accommodating offshore wind farms because the wind farms have significant upfront construction costs that are difficult to recoup in the regional energy markets.

With Massachusetts in need of clean energy to meet its emissions targets, the state has increasingly negotiated long-term deals outside of the regional power markets to get offshore wind farms and other renewable projects built. According to the state report, the state’s three utilities currently have 62 long-term contracts with renewable energy suppliers for a total commitment of $22 billion. With the extra 1,600 megawatts, 60 percent of the state’s electricity load will come from long-term contracts, the report said.

The long-term contracts change the regional market dynamic considerably. With the regional power markets, generators vie for sales and have to absorb any financial losses if their power plants are unable to compete for business. With the long-term contracts granted to renewable energy suppliers, the risk for any financial losses shifts back to ratepayers.

“The high amount of energy tied up in long-term contracts may impact wholesale markets and may shift risk to ratepayers as energy markets change,” the state report said.

Woodcock said the offshore wind market itself illustrates how quickly the market can change. He said Vineyard Wind originally planned to populate its wind farm with 6.5 megawatt turbines, but turbine technology has changed so much over the last 1 ½ years that the company is moving to a 9.5 megawatt turbine. “That just signals how much change is happening,” he said.

The report recommended the Legislature give the Department of Energy Resources the option of including other renewable resources in future solicitations to increase competition for long-term contracts and to take advantage of technological changes as they arise.

Another concern raised by the report is that competition is increasing from other states for the onshore economic development associated with offshore wind farms. Many on the South Coast have been worried that the focus on price in the state contracting process has hurt efforts to convince companies to build more production facilities in Massachusetts.

Other states are pursuing the industry aggressively. The report said New Jersey has a $100 million offshore wind tax credit program, New York is spending $200 million on port infrastructure, and Connecticut is investing $35.5 million in the New London port.

Continue reading here:

State approves 22-turbine wind project for Hancock County  

The state has approved a $147.5 million industrial wind-to-energy facility proposed for Hancock County after a four-year delay caused by concerns about the project’s impact on area bats and birds.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection announced its awarding of a site permit to Longroad Energy’s 22-turbine Weaver Wind project in Eastbrook and Osborn on Friday. Opponents have 30 days to appeal to the Maine Board of Environmental Protection, spokesman Mark Bergeron said.

Attempts to contact Longroad were not immediately successful on Friday.

First proposed in December 2014 by developers First Wind and then by SunEdison, which withdrew its DEP application in 2015, the project survived opposition from the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife over concerns that it would kill birds and bats and disrupt nesting grounds.

But state officials “and the applicant have worked closely in consultation with us to work out those issues,” Bergeron said Friday.

Each of the 22 turbines would be nearly 600 feet tall from ground to the highest tip of each blade, and would be rated for 3.3 megawatts of generating capacity for a total power capacity of nearly 73 megawatts. Fourteen would be in Osborn and eight would be in Eastbrook, Longroad has said.

To allay state concerns, Longroad agreed to set aside 5,791 acres for bird habitation in Hancock north of the Downeast Sunrise Trail and in Whiting near Holmes Bay. Longhorn will work with naturalists to create a land management plan to help the birds and bats survive, according to the permit approval.

To help protect bats, Longhorn will curtail turbine operations nightly from April 15 to Sept. 30 for at least 30 minutes before sunset and after sunrise when ambient temperatures are above 32 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on certain wind conditions. Turbines will only operate at wind speeds exceeding 6.0 meters per second from April 15 to July 15 and Sept. 16-30 and at speeds exceeding 6.5 meters per second from July 16 to Sept. 15. Turbines will be feathered during the curtailment and turn at no more than one revolution per minute to minimize risks of bat mortality, the approval states.

As part of the project, Longroad will build an operations center near Route 9 in Aurora and would connect to the grid at an Emera substation near the 34.5 megawatt Bull Hill wind farm in Township 16, which was developed by First Wind but now is owned and operated by TerraForm Power.

Longroad would likely wait until the appeal period lapses before beginning construction, Bergeron said.

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Comment by Long Islander on June 3, 2019 at 3:02pm
Comment by Willem Post on June 2, 2019 at 3:06pm

CO2 Reduction due to Wind Turbines Much Less Than Claimed


The Irish Grid

Studies of operating conditions of the Irish grid performed a few years ago showed, at 17% wind on the grid, about 55% of the CO2 was reduced due to wind, instead of the claimed 100%. At higher wind percentages, the percent CO2 reduction would be even less.


NOTE: The mantra often promulgated by pro-wind folks is one MWh of wind displaces one MWh of other generation, and as wind uses no fuel there is no CO2, but other generation does use fuel, so that CO2 is avoided. That turned out to be of advantage to pro-wind folks, but is, in fact, highly simplistic.


In Ireland, there were years of denial and ignoring of various studies by independent energy systems analysts. Dr. Fred Udo was one of the early analysts of the Irish grid to point out the discrepancy. He was ignored at that time. Another study showed the gas turbines operated near 40% efficiency at 17% wind, whereas, at zero wind, they operated at near 50% efficiency. At that time, the Irish grid had only a minor connection to the UK grid. 


The undeniable tip-off was Irish gas imports, which had been predicted to decrease as wind would increase, but had, in fact, notdecreased as much as predicted. After much back and forth, the government finally launched an inquiry, which revealed the inefficient operation of the gas turbines at part load (more Btu/kWh, more CO2/kWh), due to the variable, intermittent output of the wind turbines, and their more frequent start/stop operations (high Btu/kWh, high CO2/kWh).


Since that time, the Irish grid acquired large capacity connections to the UK and French grids to spread the “discrepancy” over a much larger grid area, which makes it nearly invisible. A Brussels PR problem solved. See URL.


The New England Grid

Future wind on the NE grid is planned to be about 20% by 2025, i.e., higher than the 17% in Ireland a few years ago, and the NE grid has only minor connections to nearby grids, the same as Ireland a few years ago.


At the higher wind percentages, the NE percent CO2 reduction would be even less than 55%, i.e., expensive or inexpensive, variable/intermittent wind is no panacea regarding reducing CO2 and ameliorate global warming.


DUCK Curves: DUCK curves due to daytime solar, a minor problem in not-so-sunny Ireland, would impart an additional worsening of grid stability problems after solar would become a significant percentage on the NE grid at noontime in the future.


Dealing with the down ramping in the morning as solar is increasing, and the up ramping in the afternoon/early evening as solar is decreasing would impart additional cost/kWh on owners of traditional generators. They likely would be compensated by means of capacity payments by ISO-NE. Those payments should be charged to the disturbers, the solar system owners. However the payments likely would be socialized, i.e., charged to ratepayers/taxpayers.


NOTE: If solar system owners were required to install batteries, then the down/up ramping would be avoided, but that would place a cost burden on solar system owners and there would be no end to their complaints.



Multi-Day Wind/Solar Lulls: Also, during simultaneous wind/solar lulls, which occur at random throughout the year, and may last up to 7 days, a full complement of traditional generation plants and energy storage sources must be available, 24/7/365, to serve NE demand, including future EVs and heat pumps. That storage must be replenished in a timely manner to serve a second lull, which may occur a few days after the first lull. See URLs.


The mantra often promulgated by pro-wind folks is “the wind always blows somewhere”. However, weather systems tend to be 500 to 1000 miles long and wide. Any surpluswind electricity would have to come from at least 1000 miles away, which would require high voltage DC lines, as the transmission losses of high voltage AC lines would be too large, plus it would require very robust connections between the NE and nearby grids. Dealing with the wind/solar lull problems would impart additional cost/kWh that likely would not be charged to wind turbine owners but to ratepayers/taxpayers.

Comment by Willem Post on June 2, 2019 at 2:59pm

A chart in the report noted the Vineyard Wind contract price was 6.5 cents per kilowatt hour in 2017 dollars, slightly higher than the price of Quebec hydro-electricity being purchased in a separate procurement and double the price of electricity produced with natural gas.

That is for the FIRST YEAR. The price increases each year for 20 years

Vineyard Wind, 800 MW, fifteen miles south of Martha’s Vineyard, using 8 or 10 MW turbines, 750 ft tall.

Phase 1 on line in 2021, electricity offered at an average of 8.9 c/kWh over 20 years

Phase 2 offered at an average of 7.9 c/kWh over 20 years

Hydro-Quebec imported hydro is 6 - 7 c/kWh; GMP paid 5.549 c/kWh in 2016, under a recent 20-y contract.

Wind electricity cannot be compared with hydro from HQ of with gas electricity, because wind (and solar) REQUIRE the support of the OTHER generators for peaking filling in and balancing.


Comment by Willem Post on June 2, 2019 at 2:49pm

"....and tend to reliably generate power during the winter months when natural gas for power plants can sometimes be in short supply".

That statement is total crap.

Reliable my foot.

Wind blows at random.

There is NONE, ZERO, NADA reliability.

Here is a diagram when it was very windy.

It would be easy to simulate a diagram when it is not windy at all, which happens in winter (and summer), even offshore.

The output VARIES from 1600 MW to ZERO.

It is less than 200 MW during FIVE DAYS of the 24 Dec 2017 to Jan 8 2018 period.

And those 5 days occur at random.

That is reliable?

Go sell that nonsense to an idiot.

Comment by Thinklike A. Mountain on June 2, 2019 at 2:24pm

Once bribed, one is then controlled via blackmail. Examine a large government body and many NGO  groups in this year 2019 and you will likely find many bribed and thus under the control of blackmail. It is the equivalent of being bitten in George Romero's Night of the Living Dead. A live person on your side becomes one of them. With every bribe their numbers grow. With every prosecution, the numbers decline.

Comment by Frank Haggerty on June 2, 2019 at 12:20pm

Massachusetts Has Major Problems With Land Based Wind Turbines - Original Agenda 2005 Was 2000 Megawatts By 2020 -- 21 Communities Have Noise & Health Problems -Mass Only Has 120 Megawatts Of Land Based Wind Power - A Major Failure 

Comment by richard mcdonald on June 2, 2019 at 12:10pm

If this trend continues, the future of onshore wind development in Maine could be in jeopardy. To prime the pump after the moratorium, Mills may provide a lifeline through state issued RFP's for renewable MW to meet current and soon to be expanded RPS goals. Most estimates predict offshore wind development is 7-10 years off for Maine - plenty of time to destroy our remaining ridgelines and viewsheds. 

Comment by Thinklike A. Mountain on June 2, 2019 at 12:02pm

Deep water

Deep state

Deep you know what


Ex-CIA Officer: Trump In "Historic Battle" With "Treasonous" Deep State

Hannah Pingree on the Maine expedited wind law

Hannah Pingree - Director of Maine's Office of Innovation and the Future

"Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine."


Maine as Third World Country:

CMP Transmission Rate Skyrockets 19.6% Due to Wind Power


Click here to read how the Maine ratepayer has been sold down the river by the Angus King cabal.

Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT


(excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.”

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