In early April 2017, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) partnered with investor-owned electric distribution companies across the state to jointly issue a request for proposals (RFP) for renewable energy generation. The mission of the RFP is to ultimately help the state meet goals outlined by energy diversity legislation signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker in August 2016. By the time the initial deadline closed on July 27th, the state had received nearly four dozen bids for a contract to add more renewable power to its energy portfolio.
In an effort to reduce Massachusetts’ reliance on fossil fuels and greenhouse gas-emitting power plants, the legislation requires that utilities procure 1,200 Megawatts (MW) of clean energy, including hydropower and wind, plus an additional 1,600 MW of offshore wind. Selected bids will receive long-term contracts of 15-20 years to provide Massachusetts distribution companies with clean energy generation.
The nearly four dozen proposals came from a group of five companies aiming to complete transmission projects that would ship clean energy to Massachusetts from neighboring states as well as Canada. Central Maine Power and its corporate parent Avangrid submitted two proposals for transmission lines – one carrying 1,200 MW of hydroelectric power from dams in Quebec to the New England grid and another drawing 1,100 MW of wind and solar power from facilities in Maine. TDI-New England and Eversource made similar bids, each proposing two projects that would bring hydro and wind power to Massachusetts. Emera proposed its wholly-owned Atlantic Link project, a 900 MW undersea cable that would deliver wind and hydro power from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. National Grid submitted two proposals to ship wind and solar power from New York and Canada.
Among other criteria, the bids will be evaluated for their potential to help the state meet its emission reduction goals and for their value to consumers. A team that includes representatives from the state’s electric distribution companies and DOER will evaluate the bids and select the winning projects by January 25, 2018. The awarded contracts will help finance the development of utility-scale renewables and the transmission lines needed to bring that power to consumers throughout the Commonwealth.