Study: Massachusetts Offshore Wind Farm Would Have Substantially Curtailed Environmental and Grid Impacts Created by “Bomb Cyclone”
Proposed Vineyard Wind energy project would have created $31 million in wholesale power savings and eliminated 67,485 metric tons of carbon dioxide (“CO2”) emissions
Vineyard Wind today released a study prepared by Daymark Energy Advisors that assessed how a proposed 800-megawatt (MW) wind project would have substantially mitigated economic, environmental and reliability-related challenges facing New England, and particularly the Cape Cod region, during a 96-hour period covering January 4th through January 7th.
“The report clearly details the importance of developing offshore wind at the earliest possible date in Massachusetts,” said Erich Stephens, Chief Development Officer of Vineyard Wind. “The sooner we start building the Commonwealth’s first offshore wind project, the sooner local residents and businesses will benefit from the abundant environmental and economic advantages that are associated with large-scale renewable and sustainable offshore wind energy.”
According to Daymark’s analysis of wholesale electric costs, generation fuel mix, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as well as a qualitative analysis of grid reliability benefits associated with Vineyard Wind’s proposed interconnection point at a substation in Barnstable, Vineyard Wind would have delivered the following benefits had it been constructed and online during the “bomb cyclone” storm known as Grayson and its immediate aftermath:
Vineyard Wind’s proposed 800 MW wind farm, which will be capable of generating enough electricity to power over 400,000 homes, would have provided 61 million kilowatt-hours of clean, emission-free generation over the four-day period, based on actual wind conditions recorded at the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s offshore measurement station;
· An 800 MW wind farm would have produced enough lower-cost electricity to reduce regional wholesale electric prices by nearly $20 per megawatt hour (MWh), saving New England customers over $31 million and Massachusetts customers almost $15 million;
· An in-service 800 MW wind farm would have reduced carbon dioxide (“CO2”) emissions from New England power generators by 67,485 metric tons – the equivalent of removing 14,358 cars from the road for a year – and would have contributed 32,000 metric tons of GHG reduction benefits that are legally-mandated by the Massachusetts’ Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA);
· Vineyard Wind’s injection of power directly into the Cape Cod region, unique among proposed offshore wind projects, would have provided additional assurances of dependability during a period when weather-related malfunctions at Pilgrim Nuclear Station in Plymouth threatened grid reliability
Continuous cold weather conditions before and during the “bomb cyclone” resulted in a sharp increase for wholesale gas prices ten times higher than the annual average price during 2017. High prices for natural gas impact the wholesale electricity market because that fuel is used to generate more than half of New England’s electricity during normal weather conditions. Regional pipeline constraints cause gas prices for power generation to soar during periods of extreme cold weather because natural gas is prioritized for home heating. In turn, power stations are forced to burn emission-intensive oil to fuel their turbines, which release tons of excess GHGs and pollutants into the atmosphere. Commonwealth magazine recently reported that during 14 days of extreme cold after Christmas through the end of Winter Storm Grayson, New England’s power generators burned close to 2 million barrels of oil, more than they used in 2016 and 2017 combined.
The Vineyard Wind project would have run at full capacity for nearly all of the “bomb cyclone” event, relieving the need to burn either natural gas or heating oil, reducing emissions and savings costs even during the coldest New England weather.
In August 2016, the Commonwealth enacted comprehensive energy diversity legislation as part of a broad effort to reduce energy costs, strengthen the state’s clean energy economy and achieve legally required GHG reduction requirements set forth in the GWSA. Following passage of the law, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center issued a request for proposals for a large, utility-scale wind energy project off the coast of Massachusetts during the summer of 2017.
In December 2017, Vineyard Wind submitted a proposal to construct up to 800 MW of offshore wind generation approximately 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard and transmission infrastructure capable of carrying 1,600 MW of electricity from Massachusetts’ wind farms. Vineyard Wind is the only bidder with a timeline calling for site construction beginning in 2019 and operations starting in 2021. Prior to tendering its proposal, Vineyard Wind became the offshore wind project in Massachusetts to apply for federal and state construction permits.
By filing for construction permits in 2017, Vineyard Wind is on track to complete the permitting process in time to begin in-state construction in 2019, and be fully operational by 2021.