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Massachusetts Proposes $750M Offshore Wind Energy Investment

Gov. Charlie Baker has filed clean energy legislation that would remove the existing price cap on project proposals in hopes to attract greater investment into the state’s developing offshore wind industry.

(TNS) — Gov. Charlie Baker has filed "game-changing legislation" to invest $750 million into clean energy and pull back strict pricing requirements on procurements in an effort to attract more onshore economic development needed for the state's emerging offshore wind industry.

"We're ensuring that Massachusetts retains its leading-edge position in the offshore wind policy debate in the U.S. by proposing to, among other things, remove the price cap on project proposals to ensure that projects have the flexibility to incorporate storage, improved reliability and also greater economic development as part of their bids," Baker said, at a national offshore wind conference in Boston's Omni Seaport Hotel on Wednesday.

The investment in offshore wind proposed by the Baker administration would be funded with American Rescue Plan Act money and represents "the single largest investment in the clean energy economy in Massachusetts to date," his office said.

The bill aims to create a fund that would be administered by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and would focus on advancing clean energy technology, offshore-wind workforce training and development and the long-term sustainability and coexistence of the commercial fishing industry, according to a press release.

Massachusetts — which has about 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind power under contract between Vineyard Wind I and Mayflower Wind and another project in the works to develop another 1,200 MW — has established itself as a leader in the wind industry.

To meet its net-zero carbon emissions goals, the state will have to bring online about 1,000 MWs a year through the 2030s, the administration said.

To keep the state competitive, Baker's bill proposes a shakeup in how the state selects wind projects. It would repeal a price cap passed in 2016 "to ensure the projects have the flexibility to incorporate storage, improve reliability, and offer greater economic development."

It will also take procurement power out of the hands of utility companies like National Grid, Eversource and Unitil and into those of the state's Department of Energy Resources, which would select new projects alongside the utilities.

The move follows the lead of states like New York and New Jersey where recent contracts have punted price caps in favor of building up onshore infrastructure to support a full-service industry.

Eliminating the offshore wind price cap puts the governor in alignment with House Speaker Ronald Mariano, who last month said the House is drafting its own bill to change what the state requires of developers that bid on future projects.

Critics of the governor's plan said the removal of caps on the cost of energy that have helped keep prices low for consumers could send the price of electricity generated by offshore wind spiraling out of control.

(c)2021 the Boston Herald. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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