The Massachusetts Legislature has passed a bill to double the states procurement of offshore wind-generated electricity. 

Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker is expected to sign the bill into law, according to press reports. 

This is good news for the offshore wind industry, but the legislature also proposed a change in the way that wind farms off the Massachusetts coast should be connected to the shore – a subject that is of particular interest to the submarine power cable industry. 

As Liz Burdock, Executive Director of the Business Network for Offshore Wind, explained, “The legislation encourages state officials to consider a different type of offshore wind procurement in the future. Instead of each developer building a separate transmission line to their own wind farm, the legislation urges consideration of building one transmission line to the area to serve multiple wind farms.”

There are six wind energy areas (WEAs) off the coasts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island.  Four of them have already been awarded – two to Deepwater Wind and one each to Bay State Wind and Vineyard Wind.  Two others are to be awarded.  All are virtually contiguous, as can be seen on the map below from the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). 

RI MA Lease Areas

This is a trend that is being seen in Europe – cables from a number of wind farms connected to one or more offshore platforms that in turn are connected by cables to the shore.  In Massachusetts’ case, it would simplify one problem by having fewer cable landings (or at least concentrating them in a small area) in a region that has a history of opposition to such landings. 

Few details are available about the concept and it will be interesting to see how it develops and who would build it.