On Tuesday, Governor Charlie Baker and Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Kathleen Theoharides asked the Legislature to support legislation that would make the state more competitive in the Offshore wind business. The hours-long hearing before the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy was tumultuous, with 90 witnesses signed on, including many advocates and sceptics. Baker is under pressure to expand clean energy as he prepares to leave office later this year.
He inked a groundbreaking contractual deal last year to cut Massachusetts’ carbon emissions by 45 percent by 2030. Massachusetts’ climate ambitions rely heavily on Offshore wind. It is the Commonwealth’s primary source of clean energy. Officials announced last month that Vineyard Wind and Mayflower Wind, two wind projects, will create 1,600 megawatts of sustainable energy by the end of the decade.
However, Baker’s administration has stated that in order to meet its targets, the state will need to put thousands more megawatts of Offshore wind power online by 2050. It stated that it will need to buy 1,000 megawatts each year through the 2030s. Baker introduced the bill in October, and it will change the Commonwealth’s procurement procedure for wind. It proposes to use $750 million in federal stimulus funding to encourage Offshore wind and other sustainable energy projects.
It would also give state authorities with the Department of Energy Resources the authority to choose who obtains Offshore wind contracts. This power is currently held by executives from the electric utilities National Grid and Eversource, which Baker claims can lead to conflicts of interest. The most contentious component of the bill would eliminate a requirement that each approved wind project be cheaper than the one before it.