Massachusetts Governor Calls for 2,000 MW of Wind by 2020

Providing further support to a package of previously passed legislation impacting renewables development, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick set a goal of developing 2,000 megawatts (MW) of wind power capacity by 2020.

“With the growing interest in wind turbines we see in communities across the Commonwealth [of Massachusetts] and the abundant wind resource we have off our coast, wind power is going to be a centerpiece of the clean energy economy we are creating for Massachusetts,” said Patrick.

Massachusetts has been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy for one of just two Wind Technology Testing Centers in the country (Texas also was selected), poising the Commonwealth to become a national center for wind power research and development-and thereby offering the potential economic rewards of technology development, entrepreneurship and jobs, the governor’s office noted.

In April 2007, Governor Patrick established a goal for installed solar power of 250 MW by 2017, up from 4 MW installed at the time he took office. That goal was set in part as a pledge to Evergreen Solar, which was then announcing its first U.S. manufacturing facility now built and opened in Devens to stimulate the market for solar panels in Massachusetts.

In January 2008, Governor Patrick launched Commonwealth Solar, a program financed by existing renewable energy funds, which has since provided rebates for more than 400 installations representing 4.6 MW of solar power — nearly doubling the amount of installed solar power in a year — with another 300 projects for 3.5 MW applied for but not yet awarded as of December 31. The number of solar-power installation companies has also tripled, from 25 to 75, since the launch of Commonwealth Solar.

Patrick has directed Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles to use the 2,000-MW wind goal, as well as mandates and incentives provided in a package of clean energy legislation enacted last year, to guide the state’s efforts to dramatically increase the development and deployment of wind power in the coming years. Last year’s Green Communities Act, a comprehensive energy reform bill, accelerated the increase of renewable energy by requiring all electricity suppliers to get 20% of all electricity from renewables by 2020. Installing 2,000 MW of wind capacity would meet an estimated 10% of the state’s current electric load.

To spur the development and adoption of renewable energy, the Green Communities Act requires utilities to enter into long-term contracts with renewable project developers in order to help them obtain financing; it is also intended to improve the economics of smaller renewable energy installations by allowing owners to sell their excess power into the electric grid at favorable rates. In addition, a climate bill enacted last year requires the Commonwealth to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases 80% by 2050, and up to 25% by 2020.

According to the Governor’s office, there are currently only nine wind turbines with a capacity of 100 kW or greater installed in Massachusetts, for total generating capacity of 6.6 MW, but some 800 MW are in various stages of planning and permitting.

Showing full support for the announcement was First Wind, a Massachusetts-based developer with projects under development (and some in operation) in both the East and West.

“First Wind applauds Governor Patrick’s efforts to make wind energy a priority in Massachusetts,” said President and CEO Paul Gaynor. “First Wind is proud to be a Massachusetts company in large part due to leadership that the Governor, Secretary Bowles, and the legislature have shown in making the commonwealth a nurturing environment for the development of alternative energies, notably wind power.”

It is becoming increasingly likely that an offshore facility will make up part of the 2,000 MW, with the U.S. Minerals Management Service this week releasing its final environmental impact statement on the Cape Wind project.

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Carl is Editor & Publications Manager at the American Wind Energy Association, where has worked since 2006. At AWEA he oversees AWEA's online and print publications including the Wind Energy Weekly, Windpower Update, and other products. He has worked as a journalist in the energy industry as a staff writer for Public Utilities Fortnightly magazine and in the association sector as senior editor at Association Management magazine. He also has covered the home-building industry, where his areas of greatest interest were sustainable development and "smart growth," and has written articles for numerous other publications as a freelance writer. Carl received his B.A. from James Madison University and spent some time in New Orleans teaching as well as working with homeless youth.

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