Five New England states have formed an initiative to access federal funds for an electric transmission build-out in connection with a new multistate offshore wind integration plan.
The states — Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island — released a joint request for information Sept. 1, seeking comment on the plan and how the region can best harness transmission funding provided by the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
The legislation, also known as the bipartisan infrastructure law, allows the U.S. Energy Department to allocate $5 billion in assistance for new electric transmission projects, with special priority given to projects that bolster grid reliability and enable interregional transmission.
New England states have made offshore wind generation a central piece of their decarbonization strategies. The Biden administration has also set a goal of permitting and installing 30 GW of offshore wind in U.S. coastal waters by 2030.
However, New England will need to significantly expand its regional transmission capacity to meet state and federal offshore wind targets, the states said Sept. 1.
With thousands of megawatts of offshore wind projects already in development, connecting more offshore wind resources to New England's power grid will become increasingly challenging and costly.
The states said the new offshore wind integration initiative is "not intended to supplant" planning efforts already underway at the ISO New England, which oversees the regional transmission system, or the DOE.
"Rather, the participating states will use the information provided through this [request for information] process, and results of the studies referenced above and others, to inform possible future actions with the goal of accessing federal funds," the states said. "The participating states intend to rely on results from such studies where appropriate rather than duplicating those efforts."
The request for information specifically asked commenters to address how individual states, as well as the region, can best position themselves to access funds provided by the bipartisan infrastructure law for project financing, technical support and other opportunities.
It seeks comment on ways to minimize adverse impacts to ratepayers such as risk-sharing, ownership and/or contract structures that include cost caps and modular transmission system designs.
The states are also seeking comment on the pros and cons associated with alternating-current and high-voltage direct-current transmission technologies.
In addition, the request for information seeks comment on environmental justice, equity and workforce development considerations.
Based on the responses, the participating states said they will recommend or prioritize certain land-based points of interconnection. State-specific considerations could include interregional transfer capability, siting considerations and overall project timing, according to the request for information.
The states said initial assessments have identified Bridgeport, Conn., and Boston as potentially efficient interconnection points to support the next tranche of offshore wind projects.