THE BAKER ADMINISTRATION’S POINT PERSON on energy told an offshore wind conference on Tuesday that the governor is very interested in the technology, but offered no commitments.
Matthew Beaton, the governor’s secretary of energy and environmental affairs, sounded optimistic about offshore wind’s potential, but suggested it was premature to commit to the technology without first knowing more about its cost.
“Offshore wind represents an opportunity for clean, renewable, Massachusetts-made energy as well as a chance to capitalize on the benefits of an emerging industry,” he told an audience of wind industry officials. “We’ve by no means closed the door. We have a very open door to the future of offshore wind in the Commonwealth. It’s coming down to just making it work at the right price points.”
He said industry officials from Europe, many of whom were in the audience, had assured him the price of offshore wind would be competitive after the business had a chance to establish itself. Industry officials are looking for some sort of carve-out commitment from state officials, a promise to buy a large amount of offshore wind so that businesses can feel comfortable investing in the supply chain needed to build wind farms out to sea.
Beaton indicated after his speech that the administration and House leaders were talking frequently about the elements of an omnibus energy bill being crafted by the House. House leaders spoke to the offshore wind conference on Monday and said their bill would deal with hydroelectricity, offshore wind, natural gas, and possibly solar. They said they were taking steps to make sure the legislation would not increase the average price of electricity.
“That’s precisely the goal of the governor’s combo platter,” Beaton said, referring to the governor’s name for his menu of energy options. “We’re working together to find the right solutions.”
In his speech, Beaton said the state faces some tough decisions. He said 10,000 megawatts of electricity will be disappearing from the regional power grid as coal and nuclear plants shut down. At the same time, he said, the state has the fifth-highest electricity rates in the nation, so the desire to expand the use of renewables has to be tempered by the need to keep costs down.
Beaton pointed to a University of Delaware study on the cost of offshore wind that is currently being peer-reviewed. “This independent study is the type of analysis we need in order to inform the debate under way here in Massachusetts,” he said.