September 23, 2013

State Announces Record Wind Energy Deal

Four utility companies have filed contracts with the state for the largest procurement of renewable energy in New England, the Patrick administration announced today.

The joint procurement by Northeast Utilities, which owns and operates NSTAR and Western Massachusetts Electric Company (WMECo), National Grid and Unitil would provide 565 megawatts (MW) of wind energy, enough to power about 170,000 homes. The weighted average price from all of the contracts is less than eight cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), the administration said in a statement.

"Working together, we are making significant progress towards creating cost-effective, renewable energy and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions," said Gov. Deval Patrick. "This procurement is a critical step in creating a 21st century clean energy future in Massachusetts."

Last year, Patrick signed energy legislation directing Massachusetts' electric distribution companies to solicit proposals for long-term contracts associated with renewable energy projects to provide 4 percent of their total energy demand. The four companies issued a joint request for proposals, developed in consultation with the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office and the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) and approved by the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) in April. A month later, the companies received 40 bids to jointly consider. Short-listed bids were selected in July and contract negotiations took place throughout August.
The DPU will begin its review process to ensure the procurement is cost-effective for ratepayers. This process includes a public comment period and public hearings for each of the utilities.

The contracts call for six projects to be built in Maine and New Hampshire by project developers First Wind, Iberdrola Renewables and Exergy Development Group.

"Through these new agreements, NSTAR and WMECo are further demonstrating our commitment to helping Massachusetts reach its clean energy goals and adding to the significant amount of renewable electricity we currently deliver to our customers," said James Daly, vice president of energy supply for Northeast Utilities.

This deal builds upon the success of the first major procurement of renewable energy that Massachusetts utilities conducted two years ago through a provision in the Green Communities Act, which Patrick signed into law in 2008. Through that process, each of the utilities executed long-term contracts for separate energy projects.

(Image credit: freedigitalphotos.net)

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