The race is on for a huge piece of Massachusetts’ electricity market.
A long-anticipated lineup of electricity generators and power-line developers assembled in time for Thursday’s deadline for proposals to supply up to 1,200 megawatts, enough for roughly 1 million homes, from hydroelectric and other clean energy sources.
State officials, working with the state’s big utilities, will pick a winner early next year. A 2016 state energy law set this marathon — and a similar offshore wind competition — in motion.
So who is in the mix? Hydro-Quebec dominates the field, as expected. The Canadian powerhouse has separately teamed up with three power-line developers — Eversource (Northern Pass), Avangrid’s Central Maine Power utility, and Blackstone-backed TDI. HQ submitted two bids for each line: one that would rely completely on hydro, the other, a mix of wind and hydro.
TDI says it has all its permits, and its line would be completely underground or underwater. Eversource claims Northern Pass can go online sooner. And Central Maine says its proposal is less expensive.
At least two other big transmission projects are jockeying for position. National Grid’s Granite State Power Link would connect to wind turbines in Quebec, and Emera wants to build a power line under the ocean, from New Brunswick to Plymouth.
Only one of these projects — which range in cost from $1 billion to $2 billion — can win the long-term contracts. (National Grid and Central Maine Power also submitted plans for smaller power lines.)
Goals include curbing greenhouse gases and ensuring more reliability for the grid. Saving consumers money? That’s a goal, too. Time will tell whether that one can be accomplished.