2017 was a banner year for offshore wind in the U.S. Boosted by the start of commercial operations at the Block Island Wind Farm in December 2016, the offshore wind sector gathered momentum and made significant progress over the year.
Exciting announcements came from across the East Coast at both the federal and state level. Maryland announced the Public Service Commission’s first offshore wind renewable energy credit (OREC) awards to two commercial wind projects—Deepwater Wind’s 120 MW Skipjack project and US Wind’s 248 MW project. This is the nation’s first OREC award, despite both Maryland and New Jersey having OREC legislation since 2010. Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, utilities jointly released the nation’s first competitive solicitation for commercial-scale offshore wind. In Mid-December, three developers submitted proposals with 400 MW and 800 MW options; all the proposals contained an element of energy storage. A decision is expected in late April. Also in Massachusetts, Deepwater Wind submitted a bid proposal for Revolution Wind, a 144 MW project, under Section 83D of an Act to Promote Energy Diversity; a decision is expected in late January. Racing to join the procurement line-up, New York Governor Cuomo issued an exciting announcement on January 2nd indicating that New York will issue two solicitations in 2018/19 to develop at least 800 MW of offshore wind.
In addition to these procurements, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is expected to issue a proposed sale notice for Massachusetts’ unleased areas (OCS-A-502 and 503); these are areas for which both Statoil and PNE Wind individually submitted unsolicited lease requests. BOEM is also expected to release a Call for Information and Nominations in New York in response to an unsolicited lease request and to New York’s ‘Area for Consideration’ submission, which included a request that BOEM identify at least four wind energy areas within the Area of Consideration best suited for offshore wind development and each capable of supporting at least 800 MW. The ‘Call’ is the start of the leasing process and identifies the area from which Wind Energy Areas will be identified. The public will have 45 days to comment.
Connecticut may be dipping its toes into offshore waters as well—in December, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) issued a draft Request for Proposals to solicit offers from offshore wind, fuels cells, and/or anaerobic digestion. The draft proposal includes offshore wind projects with a nameplate capacity of greater than or equal to 2 MW (with an 825,000 MWh maximum), which may be paired or co-located with energy storage. Developers must describe the role of Connecticut ports in project development and operation. CT DEEP plans to issue the final RFP at the end of January, with bid proposals due in April, and a final decision rendered in June.
2018 could change the tides for offshore wind in New Jersey. Governor-elect Phil Murphy campaigned on a platform to add 3.5 GW of installed offshore wind by 2030—the most ambitious offshore wind target in the U.S. Governor-elect Murphy can use the Offshore Wind Development Act, a law enacted in 2010, to financially support offshore wind development through ORECs and tax credits.