New Bill in Massachusetts Raises Offshore Wind Target to 5.6 GW

A new bill setting an offshore wind capacity target of 5.6 GW by 2027 in Massachusetts has passed the state’s House of Representatives and its next stop is the Governor’s desk, before it is enacted into law.

The bill H4515, titled An Act advancing offshore wind and clean energy, requires state utilities to enter into long-term contracts for offshore wind energy generation “equal to approximately 5,600 megawatts of aggregate nameplate capacity not later than June 30, 2027” with a minimum for individual solicitations set to 400 MW.

To enable adding this amount of offshore wind power to the grid, the bill also establishes an Offshore Wind Transmission Working Group, which will assess any necessary transmission upgrades that may be required.

The transmission system assessment will consider both in-state transmission upgrades as well as any regional transmission upgrades that may be required to accommodate 5.6 GW of offshore wind. The working group will provide recommendations on any approvals that may be necessary by ISO New England Inc. and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to fund such upgrades.

Massachusetts, the home of the first large-scale offshore wind farm under construction in the US, the 800 MW Vineyard Wind 1, has previously set a target of procuring 4 GW of offshore wind generation capacity by 2027.

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The state has so far procured 3.2 GW of offshore wind.

The first two solicitation rounds saw offshore wind capacity awarded to the 800 MW Vineyard Wind 1 and the 804 MW Mayflower Wind projects.

In December 2021, Massachusetts gave the green light to the 1,232 MW Commonwealth Wind development, owned by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Avangrid Renewables (Iberdrola’s US renewables company), and the 400 MW Mayflower Wind project, owned by Shell and Ocean Winds (a joint venture between Engie and EDP Renewables).

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Photo: Illustration; Wikinger offshore wind farm; Photo source: ScottishPower Renewables (archive)