Offshore wind energy gets a boost from Massachusetts

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law this week a piece of legislation that will transform the U.S. offshore wind market and catapult the industry into a thriving source of clean energy for New England ratepayers.

The new law tasks state utilities with procuring 1,600 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind power capacity through 15 to 20 year contracts by 2027, the largest such requirement in the nation. That’s enough electricity to power about half a million typical American homes. Offshore wind projects solicited under the new requirement must be procured before July 1, 2017 and at least 400 MW in size, which is twice the capacity of the average land-based U.S. wind farm installed in 2015.

With projects of the scale called for by this new legislation, Massachusetts is creating real momentum for offshore wind. Industry follows policy, and Massachusetts as a first-mover has positioned itself as the cradle of an entirely new domestic supply chain that could revitalize East Coast port cities, supporting offshore wind development and potentially thousands of jobs.

Using the world’s largest wind turbines, offshore wind farms are able to harness steady winds close to major population centers on America’s coasts. This new legislation signals the Bay State’s strong commitment to developing offshore wind projects off its coast and further builds on the momentum from the nearing completion of America’s first offshore wind project: the Block Island Wind Farm developed by Deepwater Wind, off the coast of Block Island, Rhode Island. The winds of progress are blowing strong indeed.

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