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In 2016, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and lawmakers in the legislature enacted a breakthrough clean energy law that required the Commonwealth’s electric distribution companies (EDC) to procure 1,200 megawatts (MW) of hydropower or other land-based clean energy as well as up 1,600 MW of offshore wind energy.
Two years later, the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) transmission project and the Vineyard Wind Connector project have been selected by the EDCs to deliver clean hydropower from Canada and carbon-free electricity generated by wind off the Bay State’s coastline.
As an AVANGRID executive, I’m proud that both winning bids in the Commonwealth’s clean energy competition involved our company. Central Maine Power, a wholly owned subsidiary, and Vineyard Wind, a joint venture with Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, offered tremendously beneficial energy projects that were cost-competitive and innovative.
More importantly, both projects now will help Massachusetts’ reach mandated clean air benefits that are required under state law while providing direct financial savings to industries and residents who pay for the projects.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, Vineyard Wind’s price was “materially below” projected costs over its 20-year contract while providing an average of 1.4 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) of “direct savings to ratepayers.” The DOER, which oversaw the clean energy bidding process, noted that the NECEC will provide ratepayers with direct savings that average 1.5 cents per kWh over the course of its 20-year agreement while also suppressing overall prices in the wholesale energy market.
All told, the DOER estimates that the NECEC will create approximately $4 billion in total net benefits for Massachusetts while Vineyard Wind will produce new value worth approximately $1.4 billion.
When thinking about clean energy infrastructure, it’s important to remember Massachusetts’ goals in soliciting projects. The ability to create a decarbonized energy future that is both affordable and resilient rests on Massachusetts’ ability to import commercial-scale renewable energy resources that are abundant outside state borders.
Once operational, the NECEC will provide nearly 20% of electricity consumed in Massachusetts. Vineyard Wind will supplement that with enough energy to reliably power more 450,000 homes. Both projects also provide substantial Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reduction benefits, with the NECEC estimated to reduce carbon dioxide released each year by 413,000 cars and Vineyard Wind lowering annual carbon dioxide output by the equivalent of 325,000 autos.
Both projects will enhance the reliability of the regional power grid, especially the NECEC, which guaranteed delivery of “firm” (i.e., around-the-clock) supplies of hydroelectricity at a fixed price. This benefit will matter most during extreme weather periods when electricity demand peaks and volatile natural gas costs cause the market price of electricity to soar.
Vineyard Wind also will create new jobs in Massachusetts while contributing $15 million to accelerate development of any offshore wind industry in Massachusetts.
Clearly, clean energy matters in Massachusetts. AVANGRID is honored to play a prominent role in helping the Bay State achieve a decarbonized future.
Bob Kump is the President & CEO of Avangrid Networks, subsidiary of AVANGRID, Inc. serving 3.2 million customers in New York and New England.