National Grid Plc, Unitil Corp. and Eversource Energy proposed buying as much as 800 megawatts of offshore wind energy as a first step to comply with a Massachusetts law to aggressively develop the nascent industry in the U.S.
The three utilities asked state regulators to approve a draft plan to solicit bids for offshore wind energy contracts spanning 15 to 20 years, Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources spokesman Kevin O’Shea said in an interview.
The submission is the utilities’ first move to comply with a law signed last year by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker requiring them to buy a combined 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind energy over 10 years. Three companies — Dong Energy A/S, Deepwater Wind LLC and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners K/S — have leases from the federal government to build off Massachusetts and are expected to compete for the contracts.
After years of setbacks, the offshore wind industry seems to be gaining momentum in the U.S., even as President Donald Trump pushes to increase coal and natural gas production.
The first U.S. offshore wind farm — a 30-megawatt installation off Rhode Island — began operations in December. Later that month, Norway’s Statoil ASA bid a record $42.5 million for a lease to develop a project off New York. And in March, Avangrid Inc., a U.S. energy company majority-owned by Spain’s Iberdrola SA, won an auction for a federal lease to build a wind farm off the coast of North Carolina.
The Massachusetts utilities plan to issue their final request for proposal on June 30. Bids from developers will be due in December.