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New England offshore wind auctions draw re-bids, new proposals

Major offshore wind developers are seeking to revive stalled late-stage projects bid alongside new proposals to provide 6.8 GW of clean energy to Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.

Familiar names topped the bids to develop a series of new wind facilities off the New England Coast including Iberdrola subsidiary Avangrid Renewables, EDP Renewables-backed Ocean Winds, Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) backed Vineyard Offshore, and Ørsted.

Among the bids for the three-state coordinated solicitations were proposals to revive a pair of late-stage offshore wind projects that canceled offtake agreements last year with state regulators due to increasing development costs that were not covered under the fixed-rate agreements.

Avangrid re-bid a 791 MW project previously known as Park City Wind, after terminating power purchase agreements with the Connecticut Electric Distribution Companies in October of last year. The project has been renamed New England Wind 1 and could begin construction as early as next year, according to Avangrid. Commercial operations for the project are anticipated in 2029.

Similarly, Ocean Winds entered a new proposal for its 1,200 MW SouthCoast Wind project, after exiting power purchase agreements with Massachusetts electric distributors last June. Like New England Wind I, SouthCoast Wind is already in advanced stages of state and federal permitting processes and could begin construction next year if selected for the solicitation, according to bid documents.

Park City and Ocean Winds were among a number of offshore wind projects last year to get squeezed between fixed-price offtake agreements and unexpected cost increases related to inflation and supply chain challenges. The rapid shift in macroeconomic conditions, and the lack of flexibility in the offtake contracts led developers of several projects off the US East Coast to terminate their contracts.

Most of the stalled projects indicated they would attempt to re-bid in future offshore wind solicitations. Earlier this month, Equinor and Ørsted won their efforts to re-bid offshore projects with New York State after terminating offtake agreements for the projects that had been rendered no longer financially viable by rising development costs.

The successful re-bids of those projects, and fresh solicitations from Park City and Ocean Winds, could be an indication that a US offshore wind sector that spent 2023 mired in negative headlines is in the midst of a rebound.

In addition to those projects, Avangrid is proposing a second-stage project for the New England Wind project. New England Wind II would have a capacity of 1,079 MW. Vineyard Offshore, which partnered with Avangrid to develop the 800MW Vineyard Wind South (now also referred to as New England Wind) is proposing a 1,200MW wind project roughly 29 miles south of Nantucket. Ørsted has also submitted a proposal for the multi-state solicitation, according to Rhode Island Energy, but details of the proposal were not immediately available.

Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island announced plans to collaborate on wind energy procurement and development last October, an arrangement Ocean Winds US Country Manager Michael Brown told Infralogic at the time would pave the way for larger developments and a more efficient permitting process.