Support for offshore wind power has been growing in recent years, just as other forms of renewables are increasing market share. One of the biggest hurdles facing the technology is the lack of an efficient infrastructure to transmit the power that new turbines generate to customers on the mainland.
A developer in Massachusetts is taking a run at that hurdle with plans to build a new shared transmission system off the coast.
In February, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) authorized Anbaric Development Partners (ADP) the right to develop its "Massachusetts Ocean Grid."
The FERC decision grants ADP the authority to solicit customers and sell transmission rights. The planned grid will have a capacity of between 2,000 and 2,400 megawatts (MW). Approval of its application allows the company to offer its backbone transmission system to offshore wind developers that currently hold federal leases as well as future lease holders who are likely to emerge.
ADP CEO Edward Krapels said developing a transmission backbone will support Massachusetts’ long-term energy vision. The state has an opportunity to "become a worldwide leader in offshore wind,” he said.
Massachusetts passed the Energy Diversity Act in August 2016. It requires state regulated utilities to acquire 1,600 MW of offshore wind by June 30, 2027. Utilities have issued their first request for proposals and are seeking bids for at least 400 MW from offshore wind developers.
The Massachusetts Ocean Grid will provide a common offshore interconnection point for multiple wind developers, so individual developers will not have to build their own lines. That will maximize competition among wind generators while minimizing environmental impacts to the coastline.
The first leg of the Massachusetts Ocean Grid is projected to be in place by December 2021 with the full system operating by 2025.