Welcome to the state’s high-stakes Energy Games.
We’ll soon learn who won Round 1 — a veritable free-for-all to deliver various forms of “clean energy” to the Massachusetts masses. Hydro-Quebec, with its vast supplies of Canadian hydropower, could be the one to beat. It teamed up with a few power-line partners, to hedge its bets.
The second round begins Wednesday. This one is all about offshore wind.
Both competitions were sparked by a state law mandating that three big utilities — National Grid, Eversource, and Unitil — buy large amounts of clean energy.
The prize for Round 2: the first in a series of contracts to build 1,600 megawatts of wind power south of Martha’s Vineyard.
The bidders have long been known: Deepwater Wind, backed by hedge fund firm D.E. Shaw; Bay State Wind, a partnership between Eversource and Orsted (formerly Dong); and Vineyard Wind, owned by Iberdrola and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners.
The costs to ratepayers will probably be the biggest deciding factor; those details are not yet public.
All three submitted bids to supply 400 megawatts, enough to power more than 200,000 homes. Deepwater, which favors a more incremental approach, also submitted a 200-megawatt bid. The Bay State and Vineyard teams submitted 800-megawatt options.
Orsted has the most experience, as Europe’s leading offshore wind developer. But Deepwater was the first to build in the United States, next door in Rhode Island. And Vineyard Wind says it’s furthest along, possibly able to start construction in 2019.
The now-dead Cape Wind was supposed to be the country’s first offshore wind farm. While other states are gearing up, this new competition could still make Massachusetts an offshore wind leader.Jon Chesto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @jonchesto.