Offshore Wind – I Can’t Wait

By Joe Martens

The anticipation is killing me. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) is busy reviewing the four bids it received on February 14th for its first ever offshore wind solicitation. Some big players in the offshore world submitted bids.Baystate Wind (a joint venture between Ørsted and Eversource);  Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind LLC (a joint venture of EDF Renewables North America/Shell New Energies); Vineyard Wind LLC (a joint venture of Copenhagen Investment Partners and Avangrid Renewables); and, Equinor US Holdings, submitted a combined eighteen different options for projects ranging from 200 to 1,200 megawatts (MW) of electricity generating capacity. The bids, which are posted on NYSERDA’s website, are heavily redacted to protect proprietary information, so don’t count on learning too much from them. 

But here’s what we do know. NYSERDA expects to award bids this spring (aka in the next few months) and sign contract(s) this summer. We also know that Governor Cuomo proposed increasing the state’s Clean Energy Standard (CES) to a nation-leading 70% renewable electricity generation by 2030 (the state’s standard is currently 50% by 2030) and increasing the state’s offshore wind goal to 9,000 MW by 2035. The CES and the offshore goal go hand-in-hand: the state can’t achieve 70% renewable generation without 9,000 MW of offshore wind. It’s that simple.

We also know that Massachusetts signed a contract last year for the first large-scale offshore wind contract in America and the power generated by that project will cost $65 MWh over the life of the contract. If capacity payments are included, the cost will be about $80 MWh. That price beat analysts’ expectations and is expected to lower utility bills for Massachusetts ratepayers. 

Although I wouldn’t count on the New York bids beating that price, my guess is that they will be very competitive and once contracts are let, lots of good things will begin to happen. First, the federal agency responsible for offshore leasing, the Bureau of Offshore Energy Management (BOEM) will soon designate new wind energy areas of off New York’s coastline. Second, more offshore wind developers will seek leases to enter the New York market. Third, the offshore wind supply chain (electronics, cabling, foundations, etc.) will begin to form in earnest and will start taking orders for parts and services. Fourth, the ports needed to service the offshore projects will begin to make necessary improvements. Fifth, the process will start all over again as NYSERDA puts out its second solicitation for the next round of projects. And as the industry in the New York and the U.S. matures, you can count on even greater competition, lower costs and lots of good paying jobs.   

This is far from a complete picture of how offshore wind energy will unfold in New York. But put on your lifejacket, because clean, renewable, fossil-free offshore wind energy is coming to New York, and not a second too soon. I can’t wait.