Connecticut offshore wind competition kicks off
Hartford — Multiple renewable energy ventures recently entered the competition to provide Connecticut electricity from offshore wind farms.
So far, Connecticut's first selected offshore wind suppliers, Ørsted and Eversource, will compete with Mayflower Wind, a joint venture between Shell New Energies and EDPR Renewables North America, and Vineyard Wind, a pairing of Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Avangrid Renewables.
The auction, following the state's request for proposals in August, stemmed from lawmakers' and Gov. Ned Lamont's push for an injection of up to 2,000 megawatts of electricity from offshore wind by 2030. The competition comes as states along the East Coast are ramping up commitments to offshore wind and renewable energy while targeting significant cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.
Ørsted and Eversource, already slated to provide Connecticut and Rhode Island a combined 700 megawatts from the Revolution Wind farm south of Martha's Vineyard, announced in a news release Tuesday that they had submitted to state regulators several proposals as part of the Constitution Wind project.
Ørsted and Eversource said the project would be located 65 miles off the coast of New London and will have the capacity to power up to half a million homes. The project will benefit from more than two years of surveys, studies of wind speed data and ongoing work with stakeholders such as mariners and commercial fishermen, the companies said. The state of New York earlier this year tapped Ørsted and Eversource to deliver power to Long Island from a wind farm 30 miles east of Montauk Point.
"Since 2015, our team has been focused on bringing affordable, renewable energy to Connecticut, a major opportunity for the state's clean energy future and economy," Thomas Brostrømm, Ørsted President and CEO, said in a statement. "Following up on the selection of our Revolution Wind project by the state and our investment to turn New London State Pier into a world-class offshore wind center, our proposed Constitution Wind project will be delivered by the industry's leading experts to ensure the project is achievable, sustainable and successful for Connecticut."
Ørsted and Eversource remain in negotiations with the Connecticut Port Authority and the state to overhaul New London State Pier into a hub for upcoming wind projects along the East Coast. They have pledged to invest almost $60 million into pier upgrades, but some concerns have risen about transparency of the plans, port authority management and potentially displaced businesses.
Ørsted, a Danish-based offshore wind giant that has divested most of its previous oil and gas business, bought Block Island Wind Farm developer Deepwater Wind for $500 million last year. Ørsted also bought onshore wind and solar developer Lincoln Clean Energy for almost $600 million last year.
The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection also received bids from Mayflower Wind, a joint venture of U.K.-based Shell New Energies and EDPR Renewables North America, a Texas subsidiary of Spain-based wind and solar firm EDP Renewables. The bids included 800- and 400-megawatt proposals. The companies proposed 400- and 800-megwatt projects to the state of Massachusetts last month.
"Governor Lamont has outlined a vision for moving Connecticut toward a clean energy future, and we believe our proposal can play a role in advancing that vision in an affordable manner," said John Hartnett, president of Mayflower Wind. "The state's comprehensive energy strategy calls for deployment of cheaper, cleaner, and more reliable energy resources — and that is exactly what we are offering."
According to a news release Tuesday, Shell already has interests in four onshore wind power projects in North America and one offshore wind farm in Europe. EDP Renewables is the world's fourth-largest wind developer.
Vineyard Wind, meanwhile, announced a range of bids starting at 400 megawatts with options to develop wind farms generating 800, 1,000 and 1,200 megawatts. The project, dubbed Park City Wind, would be located south of Martha's Vineyard and rely on the city of Bridgeport for development.
Vineyard Wind is already developing an 800-megawatt wind farm for the state of Massachusetts.
"Vineyard Wind is pleased to submit a dynamic set of project proposals to deliver a reliable source of fixed, low-cost, zero-emission energy to Connecticut ratepayers, while supporting the state's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," Lars Pedersen, CEO of Vineyard Wind, said in a statement. "Our Park City Wind proposal is much more than an energy project. It's an opportunity for Connecticut to develop a world-class offshore wind industry in Bridgeport and solidify its role as a high value industry hub in the U.S. for years to come."
Proposed electricity rates were not yet made available to the public.
Offshore wind prices have dropped significantly since Deepwater Wind built the Block Island Wind Farm, which delivered power at 24 cents per kilowatt hour in its first year of operation with a 3.5 percent annual escalator built into the contract.
Vineyard Wind's 800-megawatt offshore project — recently hit with delays after the federal government called for further environmental review — will sell power to three Massachusetts utilities at a fixed rate of 8.4 cents per kilowatt hour, according to EcoRI News.
In Rhode Island, which will receive 400 megawatts from Revolution Wind, National Grid will pay 9.84 cents per kilowatt hour for 20 years.
State-regulated utilities Eversource and United Illuminating will buy electricity produced at Revolution Wind and deliver it to Connecticut consumers, but the proposed price per kilowatt hour — which is fixed, unlike the Block Island Wind Farm — has not yet been released.
The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection could not be reached to comment about the proposals.
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