Legislators in the state of Massachusetts have approved a plan to update the state’s climate legislation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions
Among other things, the bill, S2995, adds another 2.4 GW of offshore wind capacity to the state’s target, raising it from 3.2 GW to 5.6 GW.
State Senator Mike Barrett said the decision, part of a package of measures intended to enable the state to achieve ‘zero emissions’ by 2050, “raises offshore wind to another level, requiring utilities to purchase an additional 2.4 GW of generation... building on previous legislative action, increasing the total to 5.6 GW in the Commonwealth, which is a substantial portfolio.”
Democratic Senate President Karen Spilka said, “Today, we took a historic step in the fight against climate change, putting Massachusetts on the path to creating a cleaner, greener and healthier future for the next generation. I am thrilled to see this legislation codifies our shared goal of reducing harmful carbon emissions to zero by 2050 and creates new energy initiatives and standards to help us reach that target.”
American Clean Power (ACP) applauded passing of the Act "creating a next-generation roadmap for Massachusetts climate policy," and what it described as the forward-thinking and bipartisan work of politicians in the state “ensuring that Massachusetts remains on the cutting edge of clean power development.”
The bill now awaits approval by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.
In 2016, Massachusetts enacted a law for the state to procure 1.6 GW of offshore wind by 2027. The state later passed legislation expanding authorisation for utilities to procure an additional 1.6 GW by 2035. The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources formalised that recommendation in May 2019.
In May 2018, Massachusetts utilities selected the 800-MW Vineyard Wind project as the winner of its first offshore wind solicitation. National Grid USA, Eversource Energy, and Unitil Corp signed power purchase agreements for Vineyard Wind at a total levelised price of US$65/MWh.
Massachusetts issued its second offshore wind RFP in May 2019 and selected the 804-MW Mayflower Wind project in October as the winning bid. National Grid USA, Eversource Energy and Unitil Corp signed contracts for the projects in January 2020.
The recently published Massachusetts 2050 Decarbonization Roadmap, a report commissioned by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, said offshore wind and solar ‘are the lowest cost low-carbon energy resources’ and will comprise the bulk of the Commonwealth’s and the region’s electricity generation in 2050.
The report said both must be deployed at scale, with 15-20 GW of each installed in the Commonwealth over the next 30 years.
Analysis in the report forecast approximately 15 GW of Massachusetts offshore wind by 2050, with New England’s offshore wind capacity growing to more than 30 GW by 2050, unless purposefully constrained.