On Wednesday June 9 lawmakers in the Massachusetts house of representatives passed a bill that would require the state’s distribution utilities to sign long-term contracts for 1200 MW of offshore wind capacity and 1200 MW of hydropower capacity. The hydropower capacity could be coupled with other clean energy sources such as solar. The offshore wind mandate would be the first in the nation.
The bill requires utilities to issues RFPs for projects no less than 400 MW by June 30, 2017. All accepted proposals must also be approved by the department of public utilities.
The first U.S. offshore wind farm is currently under construction in Rhode Island. The turbines for the 30-MW Block Island Wind Farm are being placed in the water this summer and the entire project is set to go online in late 2016 or early next year. Deepwater Wind is building the $290 million project, which should create 300 jobs during construction.
In passing the bill, Massachusetts lawmakers indicated that other states, particularly New York, are already eying offshore wind development and the passage of a Massachusetts offshore wind mandate would allow the state to grow jobs at it ports and in its manufacturing sector.
The bill heads to the Senate where it will be debated and most likely amended. RenewableEnergyWorld.com will update this story as developments unfold.