Massachusetts Offshore Wind Bids: An Analysis of the Public Versions

The public versions of the bids in response to the Massachusetts 83C II RFP for offshore wind were released late Wednesday, September 4th. Three of four developers with offshore wind lease rights off the shores of Massachusetts submitted bids. They are Bay State Wind (a partnership of Ørsted and Eversource), Vineyard Wind (a partnership of CIP and Avengrid), and Mayflower Wind (a partnership of Shell and EDP Renewables). This leaves Equinor as the only developer with nearby lease rights not to submit a bid. The heavily redacted bids are quite lengthy, but the Offshore Wind Economics Project has read through them so that you don’t have to. We paid special attention to issues related to local economic development. If you are interested primarily in fishing and wildlife impacts, well, you’re both in and out of luck. You’re out of luck because they only get a cursory treatment here, but you’re in luck because these are the least redacted portions of the bids. It seems like the offshore wind developers are more than happy to brag about all of the things they are doing to engage the fishing community and prevent harmful environmental impacts. That makes sense, given that disseminating this information is a major part of improving public relations and that information related to supply chain development is a commercially sensitive part of business strategy. Anyway, let’s get into it.

Bid Strategy

The RFP required bidders to submit at least one proposal for 400 MW. Developers were allowed to submit additional bids for anywhere from 200 to 800 MW. The original enabling legislation mandated that for each round of offshore wind procurement (except the first), the cost must come in lower than for previous procurements. Given the looming expiration of the Business Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and the very low price in Vineyard Wind’s winning bid in 2018, it was determined that future bids could be for higher amounts, provided that the increased cost was accounted for and justified. Massachusetts is somewhat unique among states procuring offshore wind in that their bid evaluation process is driven almost entirely by cost. However, there is mounting pressure to take local economic development effects into consideration.[1] These two factors (the ability to justify a higher cost and pressure to take steps to increase local content) have resulted in some developers offering a buffet of options, ranging from strictly low cost offerings to options with additional spending to support infrastructure and supply chain investments.

  • Bay State Wind offered two proposals: a 400 MW proposal as required and an “alternative bid.” Bay State was extremely guarded of their bid strategy, even redacting the megawatt size of the alternative option.
  • Vineyard Wind offered three options: a 400 MW proposal, a low cost 800 MW proposal, and an “enhanced local content” version of the 800 MW proposal.
  • Mayflower Wind provided four options: a 408 MW proposal and three 804 MW proposals. (Since 12 divides evenly into 408 and 804, perhaps they intend to use the 12 MW GE Haliade-X Turbine?). The three 804 proposals consist of a “Low Cost Energy” proposal at a price they assert will come in lower than any other offshore wind farm; an “Infrastructure and Innovation” proposal, which includes “strategic investments in port infrastructure, technology, and innovation;” and a “Massachusetts Manufacturing” proposal, which builds on the Infrastructure and Innovation proposals by adding on an investment in a new wind tower manufacturing facility somewhere in Massachusetts.

Staging and O&M Locations

It is now generally accepted knowledge that developing offshore wind in the United States will require a network of ports since no one location is ideal for supporting the full range of activities.[2] Furthermore, a lot more space is needed to support the full needs of the industry, with multiple large scale projects slated to be built in the coming years. Therefore, while it is likely that all three bidders are considering the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal, it is also likely that they have additional locations in mind. Indeed, investments are already being made in other ports, such as Brayton Point in Somerset, MA[3] and New London, CT.[4]

  • Bay State Wind: Details on the locations of staging and O&M were redacted.
  • Vineyard Wind: While many details were redacted, it was revealed that in the “Enhanced Local Content” scenario, they intend to invest $14 million in Brayton Point for port and facility improvements to enable secondary steel fabrication and the final outfitting of transition pieces, plus up to another $5 million enable the final outfitting and coating of the offshore substation. The location of the O&M base was redacted, but the bid admits that there will be some “operational efficiencies” from their first wind farm Vineyard Wind I.
  • Mayflower Wind: The location of their staging port was redacted. They said they will use a Massachusetts-based port for O&M and that 75% of O&M jobs will be located in the Commonwealth. It appears they intend to use a Service Operational Vessel (SOV) in addition to some Crew Transfer Vessels (CTVs).

Local Manufacturing

The pipeline of offshore wind projects has grown to the point at which we can expect some manufacturing of the primary components to move to the United States. Developers have limited control over the business decisions of the OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), but pressure from states to present high economic development impacts in bid proposals may incent developers to flesh out a deal in advance of submitting a bid.

  • Bay State Wind: Details on local manufacturing were redacted.
  • Vineyard Wind: While many details were redacted, it was revealed that they intend to source secondary steel materials locally.
  • Mayflower Wind: As a key feature of their “Massachusetts Manufacturing” 804 MW proposal, Mayflower Wind has promised to work with Marmen Inc. to locate a tower manufacturing in an Economically Distressed Area in Massachusetts.

Transmission and Storage

It appears that all three developers intend to use the “generator lead line” model of offshore wind transmission, in which the developer that wins the contract is also responsible for building the transmission system. This may change in future bids since the most recent Massachusetts offshore wind legislation permits separate proposals for transmission and generation and companies such as Anbaric Development Partners have been actively showing their interest in securing that business.

It appears that they are also in agreement on forgoing electricity storage. Bay State Wind and Vineyard Wind both redacted these sections, but the sections themselves are so short that it’s hard to imagine that they could contain much more than “sorry, not this time.” Mayflower left this section public, stating that electricity storage does not yet make economic sense. They cite data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which shows that the Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) of battery storage has been declining rapidly, but is still twice as expensive as offshore wind.[5]

Other Investments in Economic Development

For the first round of bidding, Bay State Wind actively promoted the investments they intended to make in local economic development, but this time they were much more reserved. Vineyard Wind was mostly consistent, in both cases not calling attention to their planned investments in the media, but keeping some details unredacted in the bid. One big change on the part of Vineyard Wind is that this time around they redacted the estimated job and economic impacts. Newcomer Mayflower Wind seems eager to stand out in the crowd and has made their interest in promoting local economic development known in a press release and has left some details unredacted.[6]

  • Bay State Wind: Details on investments and economic development impacts were redacted.
  • Vineyard Wind: Most details were redacted, but it was left public that both proposals include $12 million in direct funding for supply chain, workforce development, and low-income ratepayer initiatives.
  • Mayflower Wind: While they did not provide dollar amounts, Shell touted investments for “expanding South Coast ports” (someone should let them know that locals spell it Southcoast or SouthCoast), a Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC)-administered Offshore Wind Accelerator to foster innovation through “efforts and institutions like New Bedford Ocean Cluster, SeaAhead, and Greetown Labs,” MassCEC-administered training grants, and funding for marine science. Mayflower was the only company that did not redact the job impacts, claiming 10,680 jobs will be created in Massachusetts, including indirect and induced impacts. There are two problems with this number. (1) These are actually FTE job years, but in some cases they report them as individual jobs. To accurately count the number of jobs in Operations & Maintenance, for example, you would need to divide the job count by the approximately 25 years the wind farm is in operation. (2) Even correcting for the fact that these are job years and not individual jobs, this number is implausible. OSWEP rigorously assessed the job impacts of a similar proposal that we vetted through agreements with supply chain partners and came up with just over 3,658 FTE job years.[7] (This did include indirect and induced impacts and the possibility of tower manufacturing.)[8] How can Mayflower be putting forth a lower price while also creating almost three times as many job years? The biggest area of discrepancy with our analysis is in the operations phase, where they claim 4,350 direct FTE job years. On an annual basis, O&M supports about 80 direct year-round jobs (not including supply chain impacts). If they hire the standard size crew, the wind farm would have to be in operation for about 55 years to create the 4,350 jobs years purported by Mayflower. The standard rule of thumb is currently about 25 years.

Fishing Interests

All three developers left public many details about their efforts to engage the fishing community and minimize the potential impacts to the fishing industry. Interestingly, it now appears that Bay State Wind and Vineyard Wind are in agreement to orient the rows of turbines in an East to West layout. (This was previously a major point of contention between developers and different fisheries.)[9] Other measures made public by developers include burying the subsea cables in such a manner as to prevent interaction with fishing equipment and compensation for gear loss.








[8]  See Vineyard Wind Proposal Attachment 14 for supply chain letter of support from Ventower.


Are you up to it? What’s it like to work on a wind turbine?

The first working offshore wind farm in the U.S. has been producing electricity for more than a year, with its five 6-megawatt turbines spinning three miles off of Rhode Island’s Block Island, the first “toes in the water,” so to speak, eliminating the islanders’ reliance on diesel energy, and sending the surplus into the New England grid.

The future of offshore wind off the East Coast and in the Northeast particularly, where several states are setting the pace for the rest of the country, draws closer each day to the installation of utility scale offshore wind farms, with hundreds of turbines, gigawatts of energy, and thousands of jobs.

Figure 1: Installation of the last blade on the five turbines of the Block Island Wind Farm in Rhode Island. Photo courtesy of Deepwater Wind.

For a look at what a utility scale facility might look like, it’s handy to turn to YouTube, where offshore wind developers, manufacturers, vendors, and others have documented utility scale offshore wind in the establish European industry beginning at the end of the last century.

The massive pieces assembled to complete a turbine can weigh hundreds of tons, and their arrays will occupy hundreds of acres. The work of installing and operating a wind farm is a big job, with tasks both familiar and exotic.

To get a look into a utility size offshore wind farm, I’ve scouted out a couple dozen YouTube videos showing a number of the activities associated with them. I’ll start with those that deal with the work performed by the folks who work on offshore wind farms.

Take a look at an 8-minute video published in 2016 by Samuel Hawkins depicting a wind farm worker’s helicopter transfers to and from a turbine on his last day of work on the U.K.’s Westermost Rough wind farm off the eastern coast of Great Britain. It documents an OSW technician’s last day offshore, and shows some helicopter hops from turbine to turbine, the embark/disembark process, and a great perspective of the transfer process.

A video from the Betendiek wind farm, a German North Sea project about 25 miles west of the Denmark German border, offers a look at the Operations & Maintenance workers, pilots, and emergency responders going through some offshore training. They perform drills for medical evacuations, hard helicopter landings, and helicopter fires (without real fire or other emergencies, so fear not for the workers). The video was produced by Deutche Windtechnik, which operates the farm, in 2016.

Another video from the Westermost rough farm demonstrates the deceptively mundane act of transferring workers to and from their duty stations. It’s a task that takes place over and over, all day, every day. For the people who work these O&M jobs for offshore wind farms, wherever they may be, the process becomes routine. For the uninitiated, being delivered to and retrieved from the massive wind turbines looks more like an extreme adventure vacation. Some of the training and experience the OSW workers undergo is seen in this video from 2015, also by Samuel Hawkins.

Speaking of extreme, this Weather Channel video documents the mind-boggling work of an onshore turbine technician whose path into the field began while mountain climbing with her father as a child.  In the 2017 video, she is seen dangling from the hub of a turbine in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in order to repair the tip of a blade that had been struck by lightning. She looks very comfortable, despite operating power tools while hanging from a rope tied to the hub.

A 2015 video published by Lars Bulow shows a crew transfer by boat rather than helicopter. It’s not a fancy video, and it’s less than 5 minutes long, but it offers another look into this exotic, growing field of offshore wind power.

Finally, a 6-minute video from Broadcast Media Services in 2014 fills in the gaps of what goes on between the crew transfers. “The best part of the job?” the subject asks: Being on top of the turbine. “On a clear day, you can see 40 miles.” The worst part? “When you have to use the toilet you have to climb all the way back down to the boat.”

These several videos show some of the routines, requirements, and extremes experienced by those who work on the turbines in this blossoming industry. Are you up to it?

What the Offshore Wind Industry Could Mean for Massachusetts

Residents of Massachusetts and other states along the Eastern seaboard are experiencing the arrival of a new base industry for the state—offshore wind. Offshore wind is a distinct industry from onshore wind, owing to the vastly larger size of the wind turbines and the logistical complexities of working out on the ocean. The largest turbine on the market—the 12 MW turbine designed by General Electric—stands at 853 ft. The Prudential Building by comparison (not including the antenna), towers over much of Boston at 749 ft. With the arrival of this industry will come well-paying, white and blue-collar jobs in regions of the state that have relatively high unemployment. The industry also has the potential to expand the Commonwealth’s advanced manufacturing sector and create new markets for the state’s maritime and marine technology sectors.

The offshore wind industry got its start in Europe in places like Denmark and Germany. It then crossed the North Sea to the United Kingdom. As will be the case for Massachusetts, the UK offshore wind industry found its home ports in some of the more beleaguered cities of the country—places like Hull and Grimsby. These cities are similar to the Gateway Cities along the SouthCoast of Massachusetts—having lost their traditional industries but possessing untapped potential in their industrial ports. Now they are home to various facilities to serve the OSW industry: from operations & maintenance facilities to training facilities, from research facilities to factories. These facilities serve the OSW industry across Europe and create ripple effects in other areas of the economy.

Despite the relatively short distance between England and their blade facility in Denmark, Hull eventually became home to a Siemens blade manufacturing facility that now employs over a thousand workers. Originally, Hull was slated to become home to a nacelle factory, but the blade factory was a better match for the local workforce. Key leaders in Massachusetts have learned from this experience and are working to ensure that the Massachusetts workforce is prepared to seize emerging job opportunities. The workforce study commissioned by the Mass Clean Energy Center and being prepared by the PPC, Bristol Community College, , and Mass Maritime is a key step in that direction, by giving workforce development professionals the information they need to prepare the local workforce for the near term construction and operations & maintenance jobs.

Factors that will determine the speed and size of OSW industry growth in Massachusetts include the cost of the electricity produced by OSW as well as more generally, the size of the pipeline for new projects, the availability of shore-side infrastructure, and the extent to which the state obtains first mover status, which can lead to agglomeration effects as the supply chain co-locates. The cost of OSW is dropping rapidly, with the first subsidy-free OSW farm poised to be built in the Netherlands. According to a study conducted by the University of Delaware, OSW costs in Massachusetts will get down to 10.8 cents per kilowatt by 2027 (the deadline to procure 1,600 MW in OSW power). This is still much higher than for natural gas (5 cents per kilowatt), but costs will continue to fall as the local supply chain develops and technology improves.

The movement of the supply chain to Atlantic Coast is likely to happen much more quickly here than in the U.K. owing to the cost of transporting the massive components across the Atlantic (needless to say a longer trip than across the North Sea) and the emerging size of the U.S. market. While manufacturers we interviewed are keeping their location considerations close to the vest, they consistently noted that the U.S. is a major emerging market that is too big to ignore. When Siemens made their decision to open a blade facility in England there was estimated to be a 5 MW pipeline of projects, though this estimate turned out to be optimistic. Our analysis conservatively estimates a pipeline in the Northeast U.S. of about 4.6 MW of nameplate capacity, depending on capacity factors, although this is a small fraction of the total available resource in the existing wind energy areas.

It is clear that the ability to take advantage of the potential of the OSW industry in Massachusetts relies heavily on the ability of our workforce, infrastructure, and business leaders to anticipate industry needs and emerging opportunities. Done right, the potential for the state is substantial. According to a study by the PPC prepared for Vineyard Wind, average wages for occupations in the industry are over $80,000 , which compares favorably to the state average wage of about $67,000. Jobs range from white-collar legal and finance positions; to scientific and technical positions; to well-paying, blue-collar construction jobs; to long-term, stable jobs in operations and maintenance. Significantly, according to the PPC’s analysis of the Vineyard Wind project, about 90 percent of the Massachusetts jobs will be located in the Southeastern part of the state—an area that has fewer job opportunities than in Greater Boston and that includes sub-regions such as Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod, which struggle with the seasonal nature of their tourist-driven economies.

Furthermore, there is the potential to remediate and renew shoreside industrial sites such as the recently closed Brayton Point power plant in Somerset and Eversource/Sprague Oil site in New Bedford. Both must be used for water-dependent industrial uses given their location in Designated Port Areas, but would be very expensive to clean up for reuse. The companies in the offshore wind industry, which must locate by the water due to the size of the components, have the incentive to turn these properties around.

OSWEP is tracking these trends in an effort to inform an evidence-based industrial strategy. One year ago, the thought of local manufacturing related to offshore wind was a pie-in-the-sky idea to many. Today, it has been exciting to see how developers are already making commitments to procure some of the components locally, including crew transfer vessels for local boat builders Gladding-Hearn and Blount Boats and batteries from NEC Energy Solutions in Westborough. There has even been discussion of manufacturing some of the major turbine components on the SouthCoast, including towers, monopile foundations, and transition pieces. Ultimately, there will be OSW-related activity all along the Eastern seaboard and windfarm development will require a network of ports. However, the competition between states is fierce and there is a need for bold and quick action if Massachusetts wants to win the race.

Ready Player One – OSW Energy Price Parity? Game Over!

Massachusetts has the largest offshore wind (OSW) potential of any state in the contiguous United States. While many states are sparring for a piece of the OSW pie, it can be argued that Massachusetts is furthest along. Currently, three offshore wind developers have lease agreements to build projects in the federal waters south of
Martha’s Vineyard, and a decision on the first development is expected to be awarded by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources on April 23. With developers promising a construction start in 2021, the Massachusetts lease area will likely host the first large-scale offshore wind farm in the nation.

There are many factors driving development stateside: the presence of vast amounts of wind energy located relatively close to shore, in shallow water, and with significant population density close to these areas; the desire to diversify the country’s energy portfolio; environmental benefits of clean renewable energy; developers and manufacturers looking to open new markets; and the potential job and economic impacts for states. While each of these factors is a crucial element in the industry’s development, the primary catalyst driving OSW’s emigration from across the Atlantic are commitments by individual states to require power purchase agreements specifically for OSW. (Click here to learn more about state actions). As a result, the United States now has an OSW project pipeline worthy of European developers’ attention, especially knowing that these targets represent only a fraction of the total energy resources available off our Atlantic shores.

In the Bay State, the 2016 Act to Promote Energy Diversity directed Massachusetts electricity distribution companies to procure 1,600 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind by 2027. Other states, including Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island, have also set targets for OSW procurement. As of March 2018, the total amount of offshore wind set to be procured in the United States was between 4,595 MW and 4,745 MW of nameplate capacity, depending on capacity factors. Without these mandatory power purchase agreements, it is unlikely that interest in U.S.-based OSW would be developing at such an exponential rate, particularly since the U.S. does not offer energy subsidies that spurred much of the OSW development in Europe. Without the subsidies, OSW energy prices in the U.S. are still much higher than traditional fuels such as oil, gas, and hydro power.

However, offshore wind is becoming increasingly less expensive to produce. Costs have fallen more than 30 percent in the 15 years since the first wind farm opened. The Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) from offshore wind, which averaged about $240 (U.S.) per megawatt-hour (MWh) in 2001, fell to approximately $170/MWh by the end of 2015.”1 Recently, the price has dropped even further, bringing the LCOE down to $126/MWh in the second half of 2016. This is down 22 percent from the first half of 2016, and 28 percent from the second half of 2015. Subsidy-free wind farms are now being built in Germany and The Netherlands, with the auction results suggesting LCOEs in the range of $60/MWh to $100/MWh by 2020.2

Technological improvements and improved logistics will remain a key ingredient in lowering energy costs. The cost of financing will also decline as more projects enter the pipeline and investors perceive less risk in financing future projects. A larger pipeline will also spur supply chain efficiencies and lead to a more experienced workforce for subsequent projects, which become more efficient as workers learn by doing.3 State investments in infrastructure and workforce development may also help to reduce costs.

Thus, the question about price parity going forward is not if, but when. Admittedly, unless you have a flux capacitor and an old DeLorean, predicting the future is difficult. These are exciting times for the industry, and concrete answers to how quickly the industry will move and what it will look like in 10 years remain to be seen. But if the present is a predictor, it seems that U.S. OSW development advances more quickly than expected compared to even a month before (albeit much too slow for some). Just today, Bay State Wind (a joint venture between Ørsted and power company Eversource) announced that it signed a deal with a European manufacturer to build wind turbine components in Massachusetts (see: Importantly, if we want prices in the U.S. to quickly catch up to those overseas, we need to work quickly to continue to build the supply chain and logistics capacity here in the states.

Even though the task of building this industry in the U.S. while simultaneously working to drive down costs may seem daunting, the award is a win-win-win for many of the Commonwealth’s economic development, environmental, and energy goals. Clean renewable energy at the same or lower cost than fossil fuels, the promise of new jobs that run the gamut from blue collar trade workers to white collar scientists, and a new and expanding supply chain that supports both traditional manufacturing and the innovation economy? Game on!

[1] International Renewable Energy Agency. (2016). Innovation Outlook: Offshore Wind. Abu Dhabi.

[2] International Renewable Energy Agency. (2016). Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2017. Abu Dhabi.

[3] Kempton, Willett; Stephanie McClellan and Deniz Ozkan. (2016). Massachusetts Offshore Wind Future Cost Study. University of Delaware Special Initiative on Offshore Wind: Newark, DE.

What Will Determine Offshore Wind Supply Chain Development in the U.S.?

The ability of a region to support the development of the offshore wind (OSW) supply chain will greatly affect the size of the industry’s economic impact. The impacts of OSW are higher when the industry employs people from the region and spends its dollars at the region’s businesses because this keeps dollars in the community. Several factors will affect the level of local content:

Existing industrial base: The ability of a region to attract investment from a new industry is often tied to the presence or absence of similar or complementary industries. For example, the Gulf Coast states may be able to transition from making marine structures for oil & gas to those for OSW wind farms, which would help this region compensate for the drop in demand from the offshore oil & gas industry. The jacket foundations for the first OSW farm in the United States —the Block Island Wind Farm—were manufactured by Gulf Island Fabrication, a company that made large-scale steel structures for the offshore oil and gas industry. A similar pattern was observed in the U.K., with many of the workers with experience working in offshore oil and gas settings finding new employment opportunities in the OSW industry.

Local content requirements and supply chain investment: In the U.K., the development of an OSW supply chain has been actively promoted through local content targets and government investment. For example, the contract with the developer of the Humber Gateway Project in the U.K. specifically stated that local employment must be used. In addition, the U.K. government has contributed £20 million toward the Manufacturing Advisory Service Offshore Wind Supply Chain Growth Programme (GROW: Offshore Wind) and has set aside funding and resources to create the Offshore Wind Investment Organisation, a private-sector-led body to attract inward investment.[1] Local content requirements are not likely to occur in the U.S., where OSW development is being led at the state level, since the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution prevents states from passing laws mandating local procurement and hiring as they serve to restrict interstate commerce.[2] However, vigorous interstate competition to attract investment in OSW supply chain manufacturing facilities can be expected as the nascent OSW industry along the Eastern seaboard of the U.S. develops to scale.

Infrastructure: The massive size of modern OSW turbines limits the transport of finished products over land. As a result, the manufacturing of the primary, finished components must occur at waterfront locations with a large amount of acreage and a quay that has been reinforced to withstand heavy loads. For example, for OSW farms in the U.K., the tower pieces were sent in from Denmark or Spain and assembled on-site. Without a reinforced quay to accommodate on-site assembly and production, all components would have been imported fully assembled from Denmark or Spain, directly to the OSW farm. In addition, the height of some components limits the locations to those without height limitations from features such as bridges. One tower manufacturer cited the need for a 175,000- to 200,000-square-foot facility, Class 1 rail, 50 acres of storage with quayside access, and interstate access. A detailed assessment of potential sites in Massachusetts is provided by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s Massachusetts has laid the groundwork for private investment in secondary locations for future turbine and foundation component manufacturing through MassCEC’s 2017 Massachusetts Offshore Wind Ports & Infrastructure Assessment.[3]

Logistics and the distance to ship components: The sheer distance to transport the components overseas from Europe may incentivize investment in U.S. manufacturing facilities. In one study, which examined the Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) for OSW in Denmark, the logistics cost was conservatively estimated to account for 18 percent of the total cost.[4] The distance to the U.S. market substantially increases these costs. For example, according to one European foundation manufacturer, it would cost tens of millions of dollars to import the foundations from European to the U.S for one 400 MW project.[5] In comparison, a new manufacturing facility in the U.S. Atlantic would cost up to $500 million to build and take three years to develop.

Workforce: The skills of the local workforce can play a large role in a manufacturer’s location decisions. For example, Hull, U.K. was originally slated to host a nacelle manufacturing plant, but to date this has not happened, reportedly because the region’s workforce lacked the electrical engineering and magnetism skills required. Instead, Hull became the home to a blade manufacturing facility, because they had the substantial deep-water port acreage needed and a workforce skilled in fiberglass manufacturing. In other words, blade manufacturing has skill requirements that better aligned with the capacity of the local labor market.

Size and timing of the pipeline: Manufacturers need to know that there will be consistent demand for their products before they make massive investment decisions. In the case of U.S. OSW developments, interview subjects consistently reported the need for a long pipeline of future OSW developments as a major prerequisite for establishing a U.S. manufacturing facility. One manufacturer described their expectation of a five-gigawatt pipeline in the U.K. when investment decisions were made. However, manufacturers we interviewed consistently noted that the Northeast U.S. is a major emerging market that is too big to ignore. The timing of OSW projects is also important. A dormant foundation factory, for example, can cost up to $6 million per year in facility debt alone. A steady flow of smaller, faster projects or larger projects with long lead times can be expected to increase the chances of a substantial investment in OSW production facilities in the U.S.

[1] Her Majesty’s Government. Offshore Wind Industrial Strategy: Business and Government Action. (2013).

[2] Building Trades v. Mayor of Camden. 465 U.S. 208. (1984).


[4] Poulsen, T., & Hasager, C. B. (2016). How Expensive Is Expensive Enough? Opportunities for Cost Reductions in Offshore Wind Energy Logistics. Energies, 9(6), 437.

[5] Tim Mack, Head of Offshore Wind Development, North America, EEW. (2017). Presentation to the Clean Energy Center’s Offshore Wind Supply Chain Forum, May 31, 2017. [PowerPoint Slides.]

A Bad Case of Redaction

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ effort to create and sustain an offshore wind industry in the United States took a step forward with the receipt of bids Dec. 20 by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources from the three developers holding leases for parcels in the Massachusetts and the Rhode Island-Massachusetts Wind Energy Areas. The bids are public and have been made available by the Commonwealth.

Those following this process were eager to see the individual bids and the different proposals offered by the three developers, Bay State Wind, Deepwater Wind, and Vineyard Wind. However, each of the bids includes a great amount of redacted information, particularly concerning specifics about the size and number of turbines, contract terms and pricing, potential collaborators, and maintenance routines that explain how often turbines will be offline. Not only that, but dozens of appendices that are provided for DOER are completely redacted in the public versions.

Concerns about competition are justifiable, but can be frustrating for those interested in the process. Here are interesting examples of redactions from each of the developers:

The Commonwealth will have all the information when it analyzes the bids, but the public will not be able to compare electricity prices …

… or maintenance schedules …

… or my favorite, Section 17 from the Vineyard Wind proposal, which concludes the bid publication with a five-page redaction that blacks out even the title of the section.

A deeper dive into the redactions may be of little value as far as sleuthing out secrets. The bidders followed their own formats in response to the RFP so comparison is tricky, but it’s always fun for fans of statistics and data to look around regardless.

To wit, here is a simple chart showing redactions by developer, separated by section. These weren’t exhaustive counts of every single redaction or type of redaction, but of redactions under the labels of the different sections. For example, I counted 12 different types of redactions in the Executive Summary (Section 2) in the Bay State Wind bid. They ran the gamut, from pricing, capacity and number of permanent jobs, to impact on the Commonwealth’s carbon footprint to wind tower specifications. Deepwater Wind’s Executive Summary included redactions of environmental impact, jobs and specs, as well, but the section also saw information about infrastructure and contracts redacted. Vineyard Wind’s bid had redactions of only three types in the first section: pricing, turbine specifications and expansion plans. These disparities and similarities, however, offer very little analytical power because of the uniqueness of each bid, so these charts stick to the section labels.

They show generally that Sections 5, 6, 8, and 15 account for the most redactions. Not much surprise there, as legal and technical topics are most likely to address intellectual property, engineering, finances, and logistics that have an impact on competition among bidders.

Redactions notwithstanding, there is a lot to learn from the bids, particularly in the areas of worksites, benefits to low-income Massachusetts residents, research and collaborations, and energy storage solutions, among other gleanings.


Renewables like wind and solar, in addition to the relative immaturity of their industries, also present the challenge of intermittency: the sun doesn’t always shine; the wind doesn’t always blow. Each of the bidders has proposed storage solutions that allow for the eventual consumption of the energy generated by their proposed wind farms  when supply outstrips demand.

Two of the bidders propose battery storage systems, and each is unique. Bay State Wind proposes a storage system at the site of the onshore substation (perhaps at the defunct Brayton Point Generation Station in Somerset), with a larger system proposed for the larger of its two bids (800 megawatts MW vs 400 MW). Vineyard Wind proposes spending $15 million to create distributed battery storage, meaning the developer intends to subsidize the purchase of batteries by individual, low-income ratepayers.

Deepwater Wind’s bid proposes storing energy not in batteries but in water, at the Northfield Mountain Pumped Hydro Storage Facility in Turners Falls. Surplus energy will be used to pump water from a lower to an upper reservoir, and will be recovered when demand carries the water down again to spin dam turbines.

Shore Side Facilities

The purpose-built heavy lift facility the Commonwealth constructed in New Bedford—with the express purpose of supporting a new industry in offshore wind—has already attracted interest from each of the three bidders. Each has an office in New Bedford, and each plans to do much of the assembly, staging, and deployment in the construction phase in New Bedford, with some of the staging taking place at other locations, which may include the Port of Providence and Brayton Point, among others. Two of the developers—Bay State Wind and Deepwater Wind—have plans for most or all of the Operations & Maintenance (O&M) phase to be centered in New Bedford as well. Vineyard Wind, as its name suggests, plans to base its O&M in the town of Vineyard Haven.

Benefits to Low-Income Residents

A section of the Commonwealth’s request for proposals requires an accounting of what will be done on the behalf of low-income residents. Bay State Wind proposes to provide $17.5 million over 20 years to the Weatherization Assistance and the Low-Income Heating Assistance programs. Vineyard Wind aims to create a Resiliency and Affordability Fund, seeded with $15 million, that will help install solar and distributed battery systems. Deepwater Wind touts the savings for all ratepayers, noting low-income payers will be especially benefited, but proposes a specific program for low-income high school students to do dual enrollment on the campus of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Bourne, with an eye toward income-based tuition support. The Maritime Scholars’ program aims “to help Massachusetts high school students prepare for careers in the growing offshore wind industry,” according to the bid.

Onshore Substation Connection

Generating companies will have to bring the electricity to shore. Bay State Wind has set its eyes on the Brayton Point plant. Deepwater Wind redacted much of their discussion of decisions regarding the shore side connection, but does note the benefits of using that former industrial area and its heavy-duty infrastructure to bring ashore up to 1,000 MW, and, in the case of expansion up to as much as 600 MW, Deepwater notes the availability of the existing Davisville substation in North Kingstown, RI, which services their Block Island Wind Farm, which has been operating since December 2017.

Vineyard Wind proposes to bring the cable ashore near Yarmouth and Barnstable. The location of the farm, at the northeast end of the green Wind Energy Area in the illustration below, and its proximity to Martha’s Vineyard makes its Cape-based landfall seem obvious; the distance from Vineyard Wind’s proposed offshore substation to Brayton point is 10 to 15 miles farther than the distance to the Cape site.

The parcels leased by the other two bidders are both closer to Somerset’s Brayton Point than to Cape Cod.

Economic Development

Part of the application process is the bidder’s explanation of economic development and job training goals, with an obvious emphasis on local benefits. Bay State Wind promises to train and hire locally as much as is practicable, considering the lack of specialized workers in this imported, exotic (for us) industry. It has already secured commitments from vendors willing to move “significant new manufacturing facilities” to Massachusetts. It has also signed a memorandum of understanding with Bristol Community College specifically for offshore wind workforce development, and one with Mass. Maritime.

Vineyard Wind proposes a program called the Wind Accelerator, a four-pronged approach to help the Commonwealth take advantage of its position as an early mover in offshore wind. The training prong presents Vineyard Wind’s commitment to the development of a local workforce in concert with supply chain real estate and recruitment policies.

Deepwater Wind’s scholar program with the MMA appears to be the extent of its training programs, though as many as 80 high school students might eventually benefit from the scholar program. Deepwater Wind’s bid is replete with expressions of its commitment to the local workforce, promising to follow its example on the Block Island Wind Farm on local hiring and trades decisions.

Jones Act Vessels

The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, commonly referred to as the Jones Act, requires any goods transported from one U.S. port to another U.S. port be transported by U.S.-flagged vessels. The vessels needed in this new industry are large, expensive, and purpose built. Deepwater Wind constructed a five-turbine farm with workarounds that, logistically, would likely be insufficient for full-scale deployment. Bay State Wind stated in their bid that they’re working to see that Jones Act-compliant vessels are constructed, and Vineyard Wind’s attention to the item has had a great deal redacted, including interpretation of the law, implications on the projects, and Vineyard Wind’s proposed solution. Deepwater makes no mention of the Jones Act in its bid.

The Path Ahead

Reading between the lines is a challenge when so many are covered with black, but there is plenty more available in the thousands of pages submitted to the state. A state-designated Evaluation Team—including the state Department of Energy Resources, electric distribution companies, and a technical consultant—will evaluate the bids in three stages to determine eligibility and to rank the bids on the price competitiveness and economic and environmental impacts of each bid. Selections of the winning bidder or bidders will be made in April 2018, with the aim of submitting long-term contracts to the state Department of Public Utilities at the end of July.

The Sections

If your thirst for minutiae remains unsatisfied, here’s a list of the 17 sections contained in the DOER’s Request for Proposals:

Section 1: Certification, Project, and Pricing Data

Section 2: Executive Summary of the Proposal

Section 3: Operation Parameters

Section 4: Energy Resource and Delivery Plan

Section 5: Financial/Legal

Section 6: Siting, Interconnection, and Deliverability

Section 7: Environmental Assessment, Permit Acquisition Plan, and New Class IRPS Classification

Section 8: Engineering and Technology; Commercial Access to Equipment

Section 9: Project Schedule

Section 10: Construction and Logistics

Section 11: Operation and Maintenance

Section 12: Project Management/Experience

Section 13: Emissions

Section 14: Contribution to Employment and Economic Development and Other Direct and Indirect Benefits

Section 15: Additional Information Required for Transmission Projects (and All System Upgrades Associated with Proposed Transmission Projects)

Section 16: Exceptions to Form PPAs

Section 17: Response to Transmission Tariff/Contract Requirements


The UMass Dartmouth Public Policy Center was a contractor for the portion of the Vineyard Wind bid involving job creation, Section 14. The PPC is expected to be used by Vineyard Wind to track economic development metrics if that bidder wins an award from the Commonwealth.