Massachusetts made a big step forward in its push to rely more on renewable energy by agreeing to purchase 800 megawatts of offshore wind power from Vineyard Wind. The New Bedford-based company was one of three competing for a contract with the state. The proposed farm is poised to become the largest offshore wind farm in the country.
Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Matthew Beaton said the contract decision is a milestone.
"This really sets the stage for us, it puts us in a national leadership role once again in what will become the largest offshore wind development in our nation," Beaton said. "It also provides a great resource, a renewable form of energy right off the coast of the Commonwealth."
Vineyard Wind said they thought it was their local connection that helped them secure the contract. They've partnered with Vineyard Power, a local energy collaborative based on Martha's Vineyard, and have been holding community outreach sessions for months.
"In a way we’ve been working on this project since 2009 when we first entered into a relationship with Vineyard power," Erich Stephens, Chief Development Officer of Vineyard Wind said. "Having a community partner from the start has been really helpful to us from the start as a project."
And the new energy contract could mean positive things for the city of New Bedford as well. Energy company Deepwater Wind won a contract to provide 400 megawatts of power to Rhode Island, and both Vineyard Wind and Deepwater Wind will have much of their construction operations centered around New Bedford's Marine Commerce Terminal.
"New Bedford is in a very competitive position in the offshore wind market because of our proximity to prime windfarm grounds and because of our industrial port," mayor Jon Mitchell said. "Once the industry begins to set down roots, there will be numerous job opportunities."
Governor Charlie Baker has committed to having the state rely more heavily on renewable energy sources by 2020. Vineyard Wind's contribution of 800 megawatts, which will provide enough energy to power about 5 percent of Massachusetts homes by 2021, will bring the state closer to this goal.