Mass. offshore wind tender promises maritime industry boost

4 Crowley Render 2

4 Crowley Render 2

Massachusetts regulators and utilities are vetting competing proposals from two offshore wind developers to supply clean energy to New England ratepayers. 

Both proposals, offered by Mayflower Wind and Vineyard Wind, would bring significant benefits to the maritime industry, such as port redevelopment and new vessel construction. All told, the plans promise new jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in new investment. 

Those promised economic benefits are contingent upon one, or both, companies reaching agreement to sell power to the state’s electrical utilities. Pending a decision, likely in December, both wind companies are making their cases publicly. 

“Like the other bidders in the process, we share some information about the benefits included in our bid so residents and businesses can understand how the project could positively impact their lives,” Dan Hubbard, Mayflower Wind’s director of external affairs and general counsel, said in a statement. “We believe when it comes to these kinds of technology development and design contracts, it is appropriate, even at this early stage, to get information out in the open.”

Earlier this year, Massachusetts opened bidding to offshore wind companies willing to supply up to 1,600 megawatts of electricity from offshore wind. It was the third offering of its kind in Massachusetts. Vineyard Wind and Mayflower Wind, each of whom won previous bids to supply power from offshore wind, were the lone bidders. 

Mayflower Wind is a collaboration between Shell New Energies US and Ocean Winds. It would build the turbines in federal waters some 30 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard. 

Vineyard Wind is a partnership between Avangrid Renewables — a subsidiary of the Spanish utility Iberdrola — and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners. It proposes developing an offshore wind site some 20 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard. 

Vineyard Wind’s bid now under consideration before Massachusetts regulators is called Commonwealth Wind. It is separate from the company’s 62-turbine Vineyard Wind 1 project that is permitted by the federal government and tentatively scheduled to begin producing power in 2023. 

Both companies have promised significant maritime investment in Massachusetts if either of their proposals are chosen to supply more electricity to state residents and businesses. 

Mayflower Wind has pledged to spend up to $81 million in support of its project. The money would be used for training, education and infrastructure. Additionally, the company proposes building a wind turbine operations and maintenance port in Fall River and invest in power interconnection at nearby Brayton Point. 

And in mid-October, Mayflower announced a partnership with Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding of Somerset, Mass., to build a hybrid crew transfer vessel (CTV) to service the wind farm. The Jones Act-compliant CTV “will proceed if Mayflower is awarded a contract under the latest Massachusetts procurement for offshore wind,” Mayflower said.

Vineyard Wind, meanwhile, has partnered with Crowley Maritime to develop a 42-acre offshore wind port in Salem, Mass., north of Boston. It would be the state’s second purpose-built wind port after a similar project in New Bedford. The port deal is contingent upon Vineyard Wind’s winning a share of the current power supply tender. Supporters say the Salem port redevelopment would create up to 900 new jobs over five years. 

The Massachusetts evaluation team consisting of regulators and utility officials could have a decision on the power purchase agreement in mid-December. One or both companies could ultimately win contracts, and both proposed multiple packages for regulators to consider.  

The power purchase agreement is one step in a lengthy process to develop offshore wind. The winning companies would still need federal permits to build the turbines, which will likely take a year or longer. 

By Professional Mariner Staff