Wind power in Massachusetts

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Massachusetts Maritime Academy
wind turbine
IBEW wind turbine along I93

The U.S. state of Massachusetts has vast wind energy resources onshore as well as offshore and the installed capacity has been growing in recent years due to a variety of regulatory actions and financial incentives enacted by the state government. The most recent notable policy includes the 2016 update to the Clean Energy and Climate Plan that the state reduce 1990 baseline greenhouse gas emissions levels by 25% by 2020[1], and a goal of installing 2,000 MW of wind power in the state by 2020.[2] However in 2016 the state had 119 megawatts (MW) of wind powered electricity generating capacity, responsible for generating 0.7% of in-state electricity production.[3]

Notable projects[edit]

Installed in 2005, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) 100 kW wind turbine along I93 south of Boston drew attention to wind power to tens of thousands of commuters.[4] In 2009, a similar wind turbine was installed along I93 north of Boston, in Medford, expected to generate 170,000 kWh/year.[5][6]

A GE Wind Energy 1.5 MW turbine was the first wind turbine to be installed at a ski resort in the United States of America at Jiminy Peak in Hancock, MA. The turbine, installed in 2007, is visible from many of the slopes on the mountain and it produces 4,600 MWh annually, about one third of the facilities electricity demands.[7]

At the Joint Base Cape Cod three turbines generate power for the base and construction is underway for two additional 1.68 MW turbines to power the radar unit. The three, soon to be five, turbines are highly visible from both the Bourne Bridge and the Sagamore Bridge looking to the East. The turbines have resulted in significant savings for the base, the turbines also do not generate any controversy because they are located well within the base boundaries far from civilian homes.[8]

At about 450 MW, the offshore wind farm Cape Wind was the largest wind project under review in the state. It would have provided enough electricity to power nearly 420,000 homes using 130 wind turbines,[9] but was cancelled in 2017 after local opposition.

On August 8, 2016 the Massachusetts governor signed Bill H.4568 which mandates that Massachusetts utilities obtain 1.6 GW of offshore wind power by 2027.[10][11] Policy also mandated that utilities acquire 1.2 GW of power from other renewable sources, including onshore wind.[12] The 1 GW Bay State Wind is one of several planned offshore sites.

On December 14, 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) opened bids for leases on three parcels, each 13,000 acres, located in federal waters south of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. The three tentative winners, subject to final negotiations, were:

  • Equinor Wind US, a division of the Norwegian oil company Equinor, formerly Statoil,
  • Mayflower Wind Energy, LLC, jointly owned by Shell and EDP Renewables, and
  • Vineyard Wind, LLC, jointly owned by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Avangrid Renewables.

The auction raised a total of $405 million. The three areas could support 4.1 gigawatts of wind nameplate power, according to BOEM estimates.[13]

In April 2019, Vineyard Wind was awarded a contract to supply 800 MW of power to Massachusetts utilities at a price of 8.9 cents/kWh and will also spend $15 million on battery systems for energy storage.[14] They plan to install 84 turbines, with their power line running between the Vineyard and Nantucket to Covell Beach in Centerville, and from there via land to the grid.

Massachusetts utilities Eversource, National Grid and Unitil are seeking proposals from offshore wind developers by August 9, 2019 for 15 to 20 years of at least 400 megawatts of offshore wind power.[15]

Current state support[edit]

The state has implemented policy and infrastructure to support efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These policies and infrastructure are partially focused on promoting on- and off-shore wind power.


Green Communities Act (2008): created a commission to provide technical and financial support to reduce energy costs, strengthen local economies, and support renewable energy efforts.[16]

Green Jobs Act (2008): created the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), which is a state authority designated for “job development and economic development in the clean energy sector.” The Act created the Alternative and Clean Energy Investment Trust Fund to further this economic development.[17]

Global Warming Solutions Act (2008): requires reduction in 1990 greenhouse gas emission levels to 25% by 2020, and at least an 80% reduction by 2050. Policy information and figures depicting state progress can be viewed on the website.[18]

New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal[edit]

The New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal is the first hub in the country designed for the deployment of offshore wind farms.[19] The terminal is managed by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center which supports the fabrication and implementation of offshore wind projects and the transportation of large scale marine cargo. The Terminal contains 26 acres of storage space that can be used by businesses and to aid shipping and transportation. It has access roads to two highways, I-495 and I-95, and is accessible from other ports.[20]

Wind Technology Testing Center (WTTC)[edit]

The Massachusetts Wind Technology Testing Center in Charlestown is managed by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. The center offers testing for blades up to 90 meters long and different prototyping methods in order to support the production and installation of land and offshore wind turbines. The blade testing is required for turbines to meet international qualifications and to be certified for use.[21]

Charlie Baker administration (2015–Present)[edit]

In July 2015, the administration of Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced that Baker filed legislation to require the state to procure 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind power, as well as 1,200 megawatts of hydropower.[22] In March 2016, the legislation received the endorsement of all three of the Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretaries of the Deval Patrick administration,[23] and the following August, Baker signed the legislation into law.[24] In September 2016, Baker's administration announced that the offshore wind companies Deepwater Wind, DONG Energy, and OffshoreMW agreed to use the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal built during the Patrick administration as a staging area for their projects.[25] In June 2017, Massachusetts utilities issued the first RFP under the energy diversification law signed by Baker in August 2016,[26] and the following month, five major bids were submitted.[27]

In May 2018, Baker's administration selected Vineyard Wind to construct an 800-megawatt offshore wind farm off the southern coast of Martha's Vineyard,[28] and the following October, Vineyard Wind announced that it had signed an 18-month lease to also conduct their staging operations at the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal.[29] In December 2018, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced the sale of three wind lease plots of 390,000 acres of ocean south of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard to Equinor Wind, Mayflower Wind Energy, and Vineyard Wind for a national record of $405 million that the agency estimated could generate as much as 4,100 megawatts of wind power.[30]


United States installed wind power capacity animation 561px.gif


The following table shows the growth in wind power installed nameplate capacity in MW for Massachusetts since 2000.[31][32][33]

Year Amount Change % Change
2000 0 0 -
2001 1 1 -
2006 4 3 300%
2007 5 1 25%
2008 6 1 20%
2009 15 9 150%
2010 18 3 20%
2011 47 29 161%
2012 103 56 119%
2013 106 3 3%
2014 107 1 1%
2015 107 0 0%
2016 115 8 7%
2017 115 0 0%
2018 113 -2 -2%
Offshore Wind Power Capacity


In early 2010, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory released the first comprehensive update of wind energy potential by state since 1993, showing that Massachusetts had potential to install 1,028 MW of onshore wind power, using 80 meter high wind turbines,[34] and 1,913 MW of 100 MW wind turbines could achieve 30% or better capacity factor - and of those, almost 500 MW could reach a capacity factor of 40%.[35]


In 2009, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) contracted Navigant Consulting to determine new locations of potential wind turbine sites throughout the state. The study identified 44 locations with 947 MW of potential power. The locations are centrally focused in the Berkshire and Barnstable counties.[36] The Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs has this information publicly available with a Wind Energy Site Screening Tool.[37]

Government Policy[edit]

The Massachusetts state government regulatory actions and financial incentives in the energy sector extend to wind energy policy. In May 2017, the Offshore Wind Incentives for New Development Act or the Offshore WIND Act (S.1102) was introduced in the Senate. The bill proposes to add a tax credit for investments in property with “qualified offshore wind properties.” According to Congressional terminology, facilities are determined qualified if they use wind power to produce electricity and located in United States navigable waters. In order to obtain the tax credit, wind property construction would need to occur before January 1, 2026.[38] As of October 2017, the Bill has not been passed.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ eea (2016-01-19). "Massachusetts Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2020". Energy and Environmental Affairs. Retrieved 2017-10-16.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Massachusetts Wind Energy" (PDF). U.S. Wind Energy State Facts. American Wind Energy Association. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  4. ^ "Boston's First Wind Turbine Serves as Example".
  5. ^ Medford readies wind turbine at site along I-93
  6. ^ "Medford Clean Energy Committee".
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ "Two more turbines coming soon to cape base". September 7, 2013. Retrieved September 9, 2013.
  9. ^ "Cape Wind - America's First Offshore Wind Farm".
  10. ^ "Massachusetts passes bill easing path for 1.6 GW of offshore wind". Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  11. ^ "Bill H.4568".
  12. ^ "Massachusetts passes bill easing path for 1.6GW of offshore wind". Retrieved 2017-10-16.
  13. ^ Gerdes, Justin (December 17, 2018). "Record-Breaking Massachusetts Offshore Wind Auction Reaps $405 Million in Winning Bids". Green Tech Media.
  14. ^ Geuss, Megan (April 24, 2019). "Massachusetts offshore wind project gets green light at roughly 8.9 cents/kWh".]
  15. ^ Bragg, Mary Ann (May 27, 2019). "Electric companies seek proposals for round of wind energy". Cape Cod Times.
  16. ^
  17. ^ "The Green Jobs Act of 2008 | Massachusetts' Businesses for Clean Energy". Retrieved 2017-10-16.
  18. ^ eea (2012-05-09). "Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA)". Energy and Environmental Affairs. Retrieved 2017-10-16.
  19. ^ "Massachusetts Offshore Wind Energy Hub Gets The Green Light".
  20. ^ "New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal". Massachusetts Clean Energy Center.
  21. ^ "Wind Technology Testing Center". Mass CEC. Retrieved 2017-10-16.
  22. ^ "Baker-Polito Administration Files Hydropower Legislation to Increase Access to Clean, Cost-Effective Renewable Energy". July 9, 2015. Retrieved March 11, 2018.
  23. ^ Dezenski, Lauren (March 23, 2016). "Baker musters energy secretaries to push action on hydro bill". Politico. Capitol News Company. Retrieved March 11, 2018.
  24. ^ Schoenberg, Shira (August 8, 2016). "Gov. Charlie Baker signs hydropower, wind energy bill into law". Advance Publications. Retrieved March 11, 2018.
  25. ^ Serreze, Mary C. (September 6, 2016). "Offshore wind developers agree to use New Bedford Marine Terminal". Advance Publications. Retrieved March 11, 2018.
  26. ^ Serreze, Mary C. (July 3, 2017). "Massachusetts utilities release first offshore wind RFP under new state energy law". Advance Publications. Retrieved March 11, 2018.
  27. ^ Serreze, Mary C. (July 28, 2017). "5 major transmission, hydro and wind partners bid into Massachusetts Clean Energy RFP". Advance Publications. Retrieved March 11, 2018.
  28. ^ Murphy, Matt (May 23, 2018). "Mass. Selects Vineyard Wind For 800-Megawatt Offshore Wind Farm". WBUR. Retrieved June 21, 2018.
  29. ^ "Vineyard Wind Signs Lease For Staging Operations In New Bedford". WBUR. October 22, 2018. Retrieved November 15, 2018.
  30. ^ Moran, Barbara (December 14, 2018). "Offshore Wind Auction For 390,000 Acres South Of Mass. Blows Through Sale Record". WBUR. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  31. ^ Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (2010-03-05). "U.S. Installed Wind Capacity and Wind Project Locations". United States Department of Energy. Retrieved 2010-03-12.
  32. ^ Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (2010-02-04). "Installed Wind Capacity by State". United States Department of Energy. Retrieved 2010-03-12.
  33. ^ "U.S. Installed and Potential Wind Power Capacity and Generation". WINDExchange. U.S. Department of Energy's Wind Energy Technologies Office. Retrieved 2019-03-07.
  34. ^ National Renewable Energy Laboratory (2010-02-04). "State wind energy potential (2010)". U.S. Department of Energy. Retrieved 2010-03-27.
  35. ^ "WINDExchange: Massachusetts Wind Resource Map and Potential Wind Capacity".
  36. ^ doer (2009-06-12). "Locating Wind Sites - Resources". Energy and Environmental Affairs. Retrieved 2017-10-16.
  37. ^ "Wind Energy Site Screening Tool".
  38. ^ "Offshore Wind Act".

External links[edit]