Today, the Massachusetts investor-owned electric distribution companies [1] (Distribution Companies), in coordination with the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) (together, Soliciting Parties), issued a joint request for proposals (RFP) for 400 MW of Offshore Wind Energy Generation and associated transmission to enter into long-term contracts of 15 – 20 years. The RFP also allows for procurement of up to approximately 800 MW in limited circumstances, as summarized below. The deadline for submissions is December 20, 2017.

BACKGROUND

Under the Climate Protection and Green Economy Act,[2] Massachusetts is required to “establish goals and meet targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2020, 2030, 2040, and 2050.”[3] The act requires a reduction in GHG emissions of 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Consistent with these requirements, Section 83C of the Green Communities Act, as amended in 2016, requires the Distribution Companies to enter into cost-effective, long-term contracts for offshore renewable generation in the amount of 1,600 MW of aggregate nameplate capacity by no later than June 30, 2027. The RFP is the first of several, statutorily-required solicitations in which the Commonwealth will seek to procure offshore generation to help meet that requirement.

PURPOSE

The current RFP seeks proposals for “Offshore Wind Energy Generation” and/or RECs, as well as associated transmission necessary to deliver such generation to the ISO-New England, Inc.’s (ISO-NE) onshore Pool Transmission Facilities (PTF). The RFP defines “Offshore Wind Energy Generation” as:

[O]ffshore electric generating resources derived from wind that: (1) are Class I renewable energy generating sources, as defined in Section 11F of Chapter 25A of the General Laws; (2) have a commercial operations date on or after January 1, 2018, that has been verified by the Department of Energy Resources; and (3) operate in a designated wind energy area for which an initial federal lease was issued on a competitive basis after January 1, 2012.

The Soliciting Parties seek to procure a total of 400 MW of Offshore Wind Energy Generation, but will consider proposals for up to approximately 800 MW, and may contract for an amount in excess of 400 MW if a “larger-scaled proposal is both superior to other proposals . . . and is likely to produce significantly more net economic benefits to ratepayers ...”[4]

BID REQUIREMENTS

Each bidder must submit at least one bid for a 400 MW generation project, and may also submit alternative bids for projects ranging from 200 MW to 800 MW. All projects must have a scheduled commercial operation date before January 1, 2027. Bidders must propose a price for Offshore Wind Energy Generation and/or associated RECs on a fixed $/MWh and/or $/REC basis. All payments under a long-term contract will be calculated based on actual production following delivery to the ISO-NE onshore transmission system. The RFP prohibits lump sum payments or prepayments to a selected generator.

Each bid must also include two alternative proposals for delivery facilities necessary to transmit the Offshore Wind Energy Generation to the ISO-NE PTF, either by means of a (1) Project Specific Generator Lead Line; or (2) Expandable Transmission Proposal Under a FERC Tariff. Under the Project Specific Generator Lead Line approach, Offshore Wind Energy Generation will connect directly from the offshore generation site to the ISO-NE PTF through project-specific generator lead lines and associated delivery facilities. The bidder may elect delivery cost recovery either through a power purchase agreement (PPA) that includes both generation and delivery costs, or separately from generation costs, pursuant to a FERC-approved tariff.

Under an Expandable Transmission Proposal Under a FERC Tariff, the bidder (either alone or in combination with other bidders) must propose to design and construct all necessary delivery facilities to allow for the transmission of 1,600 MW to the ISO-NE PTF, the full amount of Offshore Wind Energy Generation contemplated under Section 83C. The proposed transmission line would transmit the generation included as part of the generator’s bid, and retain sufficient excess capacity, or “headroom,” to allow for nondiscriminatory access to other bidders in the current RFP or in future solicitations. The RFP states that such expandable transmission bid types are “intended to support development of the offshore wind energy market by providing current and future Offshore Wind Energy Generation developers with expandable, nondiscriminatory, open-access facilities for the efficient delivery of their power” to the ISO-NE PTF.[5] The bidder is entitled to cost recovery under a FERC-approved tariff. Bidders may not submit proposals for “transmission-only” solutions.

BID AND CONTRACT REVIEW

The RFP contemplates a three-stage evaluation of submitted bids by the Soliciting Parties, including (1) an initial review to ensure satisfaction of eligibility and threshold requirements; (2) a detailed quantitative and qualitative evaluation of each proposal using numerous identified criteria; and (3) a further discretionary evaluation of remaining proposals to “select the proposal(s) that provides the greatest impact and value consistent with the stated objectives and requirements of Section 83C . . .”[6] Any executed long-term contract between a bidder and the Massachusetts distribution companies must be reviewed by the DPU, and approved upon a DPU finding that the contract is “a cost effective mechanism for procuring reliable Offshore Wind Energy Generation on a long-term basis . . .”[7]

NEXT STEPS

The RFP will adhere to the modified timetable set forth below, which provides for submission of negotiated contracts for DPU review by July 31, 2018, rather than November 1, 2018, as initially proposed. The final timetable also calls for selection of winning bids by April 23, 2018, to provide parties with sufficient time to secure investment tax credits for a selected project.

Event

Date

Issue RFP

June 29, 2017

Bidders Conference

July 19, 2017

Deadline for Submission of Questions

July 26, 2017

Submit Notice of Intent to Bid

July 26, 2017

Due Date for Submission of Proposals

December 20, 2017

Selection of Projects for Negotiation

April 23, 2018

Negotiate and Execute Long Term Contracts

July 2, 2018

Submit Long Term Contracts for DPU Approval

July 31, 2018