BOSTON — Green energy companies have submitted dozens of bids to bring more hydropower, wind and solar to the state to help keep the lights turned and cut carbon emissions.
A law signed by Gov. Charlie Baker last August requires utilities to procure up to 9.4 million megawatt hours of wind, solar, hydro or energy storage by 2022 to meet the state’s renewable energy goals.
At least 46 bids by were submitted to the state Department of Energy Resources by last week’s deadline. Many came from consortiums of green power generators, utilities and regional energy companies.
Winning bids, set to be announced next January, will receive 20-year contracts for what has been called the largest green power procurement in the state’s history.
“This is a game-changer for the state,” said Jack Clarke, director of public policy and government relations at the Massachusetts Audubon Society. “We’re going to get more offshore wind power, solar and hydropower to help diversify our energy portfolio.”
Clarke said public policy is the driving force behind the expansion of the state’s renewable energy market. He said the Baker administration needs to keep pressuring utilities to bring more green power to the state.
“The utilities aren’t doing this out of the kindness of their hearts,” he said.
But Dan Dolan, president of the New England Power Generators Association, said the green energy plan undermines a competitive market by forcing utilities into long-term deals with suppliers. That will eventually drive up prices for consumers, he said.
“We understand the state is trying to meet its carbon reduction mandates, but this is the wrong way to do it,” he said. “This will increase costs for consumers and put at risk the significant investments that power generators across New England have made.”
Baker has said the state won’t enter into deals that will be too costly for consumers.
Kevin O’Shea, a spokesman for the Department of Energy Resources, said the Baker administration “is committed to a balanced and diverse energy portfolio that ensures a clean, affordable and resilient energy future for the commonwealth.”
He said the proposals will be carefully studied to “ensure that all the energy procured is in the best interest of the commonwealth and its ratepayers.”
The state is requiring contracts for procurements of at least 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind power and another 1,200 megawatts of hydropower or other renewable resources, such as land-based wind or solar.
Existing hydropower dams and wind farms are not eligible because projects must provide new energy to the regional grid, which is overseen by ISO New England.
Among the bids:
New England Clean Energy Connect, a multinational consortium, wants to transmit hydropower from Hydro-Quebec dams to the region. Its high-voltage, 1,200-megawatt power line would run 145 miles from the Canadian border to a substation in Maine.
Eversource submitted two bids for its proposed Northern Pass project, which would bring hydropower from the Canadian border through southern New Hampshire.
National Grid has teamed up with Joseph P. Kennedy II’s nonprofit Citizens Energy to submit two bids to bring wind and solar to Massachusetts from Canada and New York.
Deepwater Wind, which operates the nation’s first offshore wind farm near Block Island, has also submitted a proposal. The Rhode Island-based company’s bid entails a 144-megawatt wind farm off the New Bedford coast and 40 megawatt-hour battery storage system provided by the California-based electric-car manufacturer Tesla.
TDI-New England, which is building a green energy transmission line from Canada through Vermont, also submitted two bids. One would provide at least 1,000 megawatts of hydropower from its existing Hydro-Québec system; another would provide up to 700 megawatts of hydropower and 300 megawatts of wind power.
Details of the bids, including costs, are not yet available. Documents posted on a state website are redacted to shield financial data and other information about the competitive bids.
Changing energy landscape
Massachusetts faces a looming energy crunch with an expected loss of more than 10,000 megawatts of power over the next few years as nuclear and fossil fuel plants are shut down.
Last month the state’s last and largest coal-fired plant — Brayton Point Power Station in Somerset — went dark as part of a planned shutdown. The Pilgrim nuclear plant in Plymouth is scheduled to close in two years.
About 40 percent of New England’s energy now comes from natural gas, while a third comes from nuclear power, according to ISO New England.
Hydropower, solar and other renewables account for about 15 percent of the energy sent to the regional grid, the group said.
Dolan said power generators are building new plants capable of filling much of the state’s energy demands.
“There is no reliability shortfall or crisis in the regional energy market,” he said. “We’re seeing highly competitive prices and the lowest carbon emissions in decades.”
Besides energy demand, the state must meet benchmarks to reduce carbon emissions by 25 percent of 1990s levels within three years — and 80 percent by 2050 — to comply with the Global Warming Solutions Act, a federal law the state signed onto years ago.
Last year, the state Supreme Judicial Court ruled that Massachusetts isn’t following that mandate and other laws aimed at reducing those emissions.
Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for North of Boston Media Group’s newspapers and websites. Email him at email@example.com