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Baker signs historic energy bill; offshore wind industry is born

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law a  bill that will lead the state into a greener energy future with offshore wind and hydroelectric power replacing obsolete fossil fuel and nuclear plants.

At a Statehouse signing attended by state and local political leaders who helped lead the fight to pass the legislation, along with environmental and business leaders, Baker said the 1,600 MW of offshore wind power included in the new law would help Massachusetts meet aggressive greenhouse gas emission targets established to curb the effects of climate change linked to the burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil.

“Today marks an historic occasion for the Commonwealth by creating a new industry via offshore wind,” said state Rep. Patricia A. Haddad, D-Somerset and Speaker Pro Tempore. She drafted the original energy bill that included a requirement that public utilities purchase at auction power produced from offshore wind farms located off Martha’s Vineyard. “This legislation also provides us with a solid foundation from which we can further increase our renewable energy sources and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Governor Baker and Secretary Beaton have been  good partners throughout the crafting of this bill, and it has been a pleasure to work with them.”

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito also attended the signing ceremony and said that “renewable energy (is) an important part of the long-term solution to climate changes.”

House Speaker Rober DeLeo said, “The bill represents a smart strategy toward price stability and the promise of a bright future for the Commonwealth.

“Offshore wind will cultivate a new industry in Massachusetts and create jobs for oBaker signsDeLeour citizens.”

 

 

 

 

Gov. Baker to sign energy bill, launch offshore wind industry

Gov. Charlie Baker is expected to sign Massachusetts’ landmark energy bill on Monday, giving Massachusetts a head start in the race to develop a national offshore wind industry.

The bill calls for public utilities to buy 1,600 MW of power generated from offshore wind farms over the coming decade. That’s enough power to replace more than 10 percent of the state’s total energy needs, while removing millions of tons of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and helping to meet the state’s ambitious renewable energy commitment.

Three energy firms — Deepwater Wind, DONG Energy and Offshore MW — will submit bids to sell the power produced by wind farms located off Martha’s Vineyard, and that competition over price should keep energy rates low.

As the industry is built, thousands of new jobs are expected to be created. In Europe, where offshore wind has been providing power for more than two decades, the first 2,000 MW of power produced some 20,000 jobs.

And the U.S. Department of Labor forecasts that the fastest-growing occupation will be wind turbine technician.

That’s good news for port cities like New Bedford — along with Fall River, Quincy and Gloucester — as well as other struggling industrial cities in the Northeast. New Bedford is able to offer marine services, available land and thousands of employees already trained to work on the water, as well as the nations’  only marine commerce terminal built especially for offshore wind.

The median income for an experienced worker in the offshore wind energy field worldwide in 2014 was more than $88,000 a year.

 

OFFSHORE WIND A REALITY FOR MASSACHUSETTS

Massachusetts will jumpstart a new American offshore wind industry.

The state Legislature approved a landmark energy bill, requiring that state utilities purchase 1,600 MW of electricity produced by wind farms located 15 to 25 miles off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. The wind farms will be located in federal waters leased to Deepwater Wind, which is completing the nation’s first wind power plant serving Block Island; DONG Energy, the international leader in offshore wind power generation; and Offshore MW.

New Bedford, home to the only marine commerce terminal in the United States which was built especially to accommodate  the enormous size and heavy weights of offshore wind turbine components, will also be the major seaport nearest to where the wind farms will be built.

A lot of people deserve credit for this important victory for Massachusetts, which will be able to replace obsolete power plants with non-polluting wind and hydroelectric power. Special thanks go to Rep. Pat Haddad, D-Somerset, who championed the fight for offshore wind in the Legislature, and Matthew Morrissey of New Bedford, the executive director of Offshore Wind Massachusetts, who brought together the coalition that ultimately resulted in Sunday night’s passage of the new energy legislation. Special thanks for state Sen. Mark Montigny, D-New Bedford, for pushing an aggressive timeline that will require the purchase of 400 MW of offshore wind power every 24 months for the next decade, as well as Rep. Tony Cabral, who worked side by side with Haddad to get offshore wind built into the House energy bill. The Wind Energy Center’s managing director, Paul Vigeant, has been part of the offshore wind effort for years and deserves enormous credit, as does the leadership of the House and Senate.

Effective local representation and advocacy made all the difference!

Great news for Massachusetts and the New Bedford-Fall River area.

 

Deepwater Wind will build off Long Island

The US offshore wind industry has been launched.

Deepwater Wind, which is completing the first US project off the coast of Block Island, has reached agreement with the Long Island Power Authority to build a 15-torbine (90MW) offshore wind farm east of Montauk Point. That’s near both the Block Island project and an additional tract of ocean that Deepwater has leased off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. The LIPA board is expected to approve the agreement Monday.

Deepwater is one of three developers looking to build more than 10 times that amount of wind power in federal waters south of the Vineyard off the coast of Massachusetts. How much — likely somewhere between 1,200 and 2,000 MW, will be determined by the final shape of an energy bill expected to be approved by the Legislature after differences between House and Senate versions are ironed out.

Offshore energy offers a vast untapped resource for the United States, with the US Department of Energy estimating that a total of 600 GW of offshore wind power — about six times the amount of power the nation now uses — can be captured off both coasts.

Massachusetts charting new course on clean energy

sailing-windgenerators-webBetween now and the end of July, Massachusetts will make history

The House of Representatives and the state Senate will appoint members to a conference committee that will recommend a final bill that will shape the Commonwealth’s energy policy for decades. The bill must be passed by the end of the current legislative session July 31 before going to Gov. Charlie Baker for his signature.

The conference committee will reconcile differences between the two bodies over how much offshore wind power public utilities will be required to buy, as well as determine the role of other green energy sources like solar and hydro in the state’s energy portfolio.

In addition, the bill reflects growing concern about natural gas, which already accounts for about 63 percent of the state’s power. A study by the office of Attorney General Maura Healey last fall found that no new pipelines are necessary and that green energy offered a better, more affordable option in the future. One provision in the Senate’s version would forbid the utilities charging ratepayers for the up-front costs of new gas pipelines.

The local legislative delegation, led by state Rep. Pat Haddad worked effectively for two years to ensure that offshore wind would play a central role in Massachusetts’ energy future. Just a little more work to be done!

Americans of all persuasions turning to renewable energy

The tide is turning in the United States on the subject of climate change, with significant majorities of both Democratic and Republican parties favoring limits on carbon dioxide pollution, establishing carbon taxes to reduce the federal income tax, and supporting research into renewable  sources of energy

In a report issued in March 2016, the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication found that 70 percent of Americans believe that climate change is occurring — an increase of 7 percentage points from the year before.

The issue is most important to Democrats. Climate Wire says that liberals see climate change as more important than “race relations, gun control, terrorism and Supreme Court nominations.”

But Republicans also have come around, with 48 percent now saying they believe climate change is real, up from 28 percent two years ago. That said, it’s a back-burner issue for the GOP while the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee for president, Donald Trump, has said “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.”

While nearly two out of five people in the world have never even heard of climate change, despite having witnessed its effects, three out of four Americans believe the public schools should be teaching about it.

While registered voters are more likely to support a candidate who favors taking actions against climate change, conservative Republicans say they are less likely to vote for a candidate who supports such action.

Add your voice in support of offshore wind

A recent study by the University of Delaware found that a commitment by Massachusetts to build 2,000 MW of offshore wind power is likely to mean a 55-percent drop in price within a decade.

The UD Special Initiative on Offshore Wind concluded that “costs will be far lower than previously contracted prices for offshore wind in the New England region and that costs will continuously lower throughout a build-out during the decade, due to ongoing technology and industry advances and the effects of making a Massachusetts market visible to the industry.”

But the key to the savings is quantity, which is why the study suggests 2,000 MW — more than either the amount now supplied by the Pilgrim Nuclear or Brayton Point power plants — is essential for the offshore wind industry to achieve maximum efficiency and savings. That’s true in everything manufactured. The cost per car is a lot cheaper if you build a million of them instead of just one or two.

The Massachusetts Legislature will debate new energy legislation to combat climate change and replace obsolete coal and nuclear plants. That bill in the House currently includes 1,200 MW of power. Various business and environmental groups are pushing the legislative leadership and Gov. Charlie Baker to increase the amount of offshore wind included in the final legislation to at least 2,000 MW to achieve the maximum environmental and economic benefits.

We hope you will consider writing a letter to House Speaker Robert DeLeo at State House, Room 356Boston, MA 02133 or a quick email to Robert.DeLeo@mahouse.gov. We also ask that you send that letter to Senate President Stan Rosenberg, State House Room 332Boston, MA 02133 or email Stan.Rosenberg@masenate.gov. Please ask them to agree to raise the threshold for offshore wind to 2,000 MW. In doing so, you will be advocating thousands of new jobs for this new American industry, starting right here in New Bedford. And you’ll also help remove 3 million tons of carbon dioxide from our air each year!

Do wind turbines threaten bird populations?

Are offshore wind turbines a danger to bird populations?

Worries about the effect of turbines on marine wildlife, especially birds, have been voiced by some skeptics. So, what are the facts?

Researchers have conducted a number of studies and found that while wind turbines do account for some bird deaths — estimates run from 20,000 to more than half a million in the entire United States — even the most dire estimates suggest that wind turbines are responsible for only a fraction of the number of bird deaths caused by other factors, including collisions with buildings.

In Toronto alone, as many as 9 million migrating birds are killed in collisions with buildingsBird_mortality.svg, according to a study by the Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP). In the U.S. collisions with buildings kill hundreds of millions of birds each year in the U.S.

Hunters kill from 100 million to 120 million birds annually in the U.S., while transmission lines kill about 175 million. Meanwhile, feral and domestic cats may kill as many as 3.7 billion birds in the U.S. each year, according to a study by British scientist Benjamin K. Sovacool.

Other research has found that the gravest danger is from continued release of greenhouse gases and the resulting climate change. Mark Urban of the University of Connecticut wrote, “If greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated, 16 percent of species will be threatened with extinction due to climate change by the end of the century.” He based that on an analysis of 131 separate studies on the topic.

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1,200 MW a start to new offshore wind industry for Massachusetts, New Bedford

Decades from now, residents of Massachusetts may well remember 2016 as the year Massachusetts took the first decisive step into a greener, healthier future.

The Massachusetts Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee on Monday approved a comprehensive energy bill that would require the state’s public utilities to enter long-term contracts with offshore wind power producers to buy 1,200 MW of power. The producers — DONG Energy, Deepwater Wind and Offshore MW — will bid for the right to develop wind farms 15 to 25 miles from Martha’s Vineyard on a huge tract of ocean that is among the most reliably windy places on Earth. The price of that power will be key — both to the bidders and the state’s ratepayers.

The bill is expected to be debated in the House next month while a parallel bill moves through the Senate, after which a final legislation will go to Gov. Charlie Baker for his signature, at which point Massachusetts will become the center of a U.S. offshore wind industry. And New Bedford — with the East Coast’s only marine commerce terminal designed and built to handle the enormous weight and size of wind turbine components and a ready work force and seaport — stands to become the epicenter of a new industry expected to produce thousands of good-paying jobs over the coming decade.

Reaction to the inclusion of 1,200 MW of offshore wind, along with an equal amount of hydro power, was decidedly positive.

“The bill that has emerged represents a good first step to power Massachusetts’ fledgling offshore wind energy industry, while also ensuring the availability and stability of hydroelectric power,” the editorial boards of the Herald News of Fall River and Taunton Gazette wrote in an editorial.

Boston Globe columnist Derrick Z. Jackson urged the Legislature to increase the amount of offshore wind power required under the final bill.

“The case for renewables in Massachusetts is more urgent than ever. The final bill should up the ante and provide for 2,000 megawatts of offshore wind — the level proposed by Representative Patricia Haddad of Somerset last year.”

News stories appeared in newspapers and on web sites around the nation, coinciding with the unanimous vote by the University of Massachusetts Foundation to become the first major public university to divest its holdings in all fossil fuels.

All in all, it has been a heck of a week.