Groveland, Georgetown and Merrimac Could Buy Electricity From Offshore Wind Farm

Wind turbines are pictured at the Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island, which in 2016 became the nation’s first commercial offshore wind farm. (Chris Van Buskirk/ photograph.)

Town-owned electric utilities in Groveland, Georgetown and Merrimac are among municipal light companies slated to buy power generated by the proposed Commonwealth Wind offshore development should it become the state’s third offshore wind project.

Through a “first-in-the-nation partnership” that Vineyard Wind announced Wednesday with Energy New England, 20 municipal light plants in Massachusetts would have the ability to annually purchase up to 146,000 megawatt-hours of the cleaner power in addition to receiving renewable energy credits.

That would be equal to about 3% of the project’s total output, according to Vineyard Wind. The deal has the potential to reduce carbon pollution by 300,000 tons to 400,000 tons over the lifetime of the 20-year contract, the company said.

“MLPs generate 15% of the Commonwealth’s current energy baseload, and until now they have not had the option of procuring power from the state’s ambitious offshore wind projects. With the announcement of this partnership, that’s no longer the case,” Vineyard Wind CEO Lars Pedersen said in a statement. “We know that municipalities like ENE’s owners have goals to green their energy usage, and with this partnership in place we can help them take meaningful steps toward this goal.”

A new climate law, which governs the increasing amount of clean energy that utilities must purchase each year, also applies to municipal light plants for the first time. The 41 town plants in Massachusetts must get 50 percent of their power from “non-carbon emitting” sources by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 under the new law.

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