New England States Working Together on Offshore Wind Grid Infrastructure

The US states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, with support from Vermont and New Hampshire, have jointly applied to the Department of Energy (DOE) for funding needed to build transmission projects that will integrate offshore wind.

TenneT; Illustration (archive)

With the potential for more than 14 GW of offshore wind in federal waters off the coast of New England, the states have proposed a Joint State Innovation Partnership for Offshore Wind as part of a DOE competitive funding opportunity that will eventually award up to USD 250 million per project for selected projects that implement innovative approaches to transmission, storage, and distribution infrastructure to enhance grid resilience and reliability.

The proposed partnership between states, transmission providers, and wind developers, working closely with the New England grid operator, would proactively plan, identify, and select a portfolio of transmission projects needed to unlock the region’s significant offshore wind potential, improve grid reliability and resiliency, and invest in job growth and quality, the states said in a statement.

Vermont’s Department of Public Service has also proposed, with support from other New England states, another submission for the DOE funding opportunity that requests DOE support for the New England Clean Power Link, a proposed 1,000 MW transmission line between Quebec and Vermont. The project would enable additional imports of clean hydroelectric power into the region while additionally providing future capability for New England to export offshore wind to Canada in periods of high production.

The transmission proposals are part of the states’ work together under the New England States Regional Transmission Initiative, an initiative launched last fall to explore investment in the electric transmission infrastructure needed to better integrate clean energy resources into the grid while improving the reliability, resilience, and affordability of the grid for the region’s electricity customers.

”New England is pioneering the innovative partnerships, technologies, and approaches the nation needs to modernize the transmission system, unlock clean energy, and ensure price stability and affordability by providing reliable clean electricity in the face of fossil fuel-driven price spikes and climate disruption,” said Commissioner Katie Dykes of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

”We are hopeful that DOE views these concept papers favorably, and Connecticut and its partners stand ready to turn the proposals we’ve submitted into tangible models of climate action and its numerous benefits.”

A Brattle Group report released earlier this week has called on federal agencies, states, and grid operators to immediately begin collaborative planning to identify cost-effective transmission solutions to bring offshore wind power online.

The report, The Benefit and Urgency of Planned Offshore Transmission, has found that starting this collaborative planning process now will significantly reduce costs, reduce environmental and community impacts, increase grid reliability, and make it possible to achieve climate and clean energy goals in a timely fashion.

The study estimates that the benefits of proactive transmission planning for over 100 GW of likely USoffshore wind generation developments over the next two to three decades include at least USD 20 billion in transmission-related cost savings; 60-70 per cent fewer shore crossings and necessary onshore transmissions upgrades; approximately 2,000 (50 per cent) fewer miles of marine transmission cable installations disturbing the seabed; and more competitive procurement outcomes, increased consumer savings, enhanced reliability and grid resilience, and more timely investments in the local clean energy economy.


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