June 26 (Renewables Now) - The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) has approved a request for proposals (RfP) by local power suppliers for up to 800 MW of offshore wind, while instructing them to shorten the timetable.
Eversource Energy, National Grid and Unitil asked DPU to approve the proposed RfP at the end of April. Under the RfP, to be issued by June 30, the utilities seek to procure 400 MW and potentially up to 800 MW of offshore wind. The effort is in line with Massachusetts legislation, adopted last year, that requires electric distribution companies to enter into long-term contracts for 1.6 GW of offshore wind generation by June 30, 2027.
In an order last week, the regulators directed the utilities to change the proposed timetable by shortening the bid evaluation and contract negotiation periods. The revisions, in response to comments submitted to the department, will increase the potential for selected projects to qualify for higher 2018 federal tax credits to the benefit of ratepayers, according to the document.
The order includes the following revised solicitation timetable:
Proposed RFP Date
|Issue RFP||June 30, 2017||Unchanged|
|Bidders conference||July 19, 2017||Unchanged|
|Submit notice of intent to bid||July 26, 2017||Unchanged|
|Deadline for submission of questions||July 26, 2017||Unchanged|
|Due date for proposal submissions||December 20, 2017||Unchanged|
|Selection of projects for negotiation||May 22, 2018||April 23, 2018|
|Negotiate and execute contracts||October 3, 2018||July 2, 2018|
|Submit contracts for department approval||November 1, 2018||July 31, 2018|
Massachusetts' offshore wind plans came as a major boost to the industry in the US, which is still in its infancy with only 30 MW of installed offshore wind capacity. The emerging sector, however, is attracting strong interest, including from experienced players such as Dong Energy A/S (CPH:DENERG). The Danish company officially opened its North American headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts at the end of April. Other European energy majors such as Statoil (STO:STLO) and Iberdrola (BME:IBE) are also eyeing US offshore wind opportunities.