Op-ed: Onshore wind power has a place on the ‘combo platter’

Editor’s note: In a resumption of MASSterList’s policy of running occasional op-eds, following is a piece by Edward Krapels and James Murphy, advocates for more use of onshore wind power in Massachusetts.

 

By Edward Krapels and James Murphy

 

After Thursday’s Senate energy debate, the state’s elected leaders are pushing ahead anew to create a clean energy plan for the state.  With nothing less than our state’s energy future at stake, there are the natural and expected disagreements over policy and what’s best for such an innovative state like Massachusetts.

But, amid all the back-and-forth, there’s one thing that everyone seems to agree on: We need a “combo platter” strategy, encouraging development of a range of renewable energy. And we need it soon.

Here’s what we know: The state’s legislative leaders seem all in for offshore wind, the governor feels hydropower is key, and solar advocates have had their say about how to provide fresh, cleaner megawatts to our regional energy portfolio.

But what about onshore wind? That’s a clean power source, competitively priced, and can be ready comparatively quickly.

Onshore wind means clean, renewable, sustainable energy. It’s a proven, affordable power source. Between New York and New England, there is available and abundant supply in the region. What’s more, it can be developed, at scale, faster than offshore wind. That speed of delivery is key, here’s why:

Massachusetts has set smart, ambitious targets to reduce our use of fossil fuels and encourage the development of renewable resources, like wind and solar. To meet these targets, we need to bring new, large-scale projects online in the next few years. If we fall short, utilities and their customers can wind up paying the price, literally.

Blended with hydro, onshore wind is the smartest renewable solution that can be implemented at a large enough scale to meet the legislatively mandated clean energy requirements.

Modern, buried transmission systems, which are ready to be built, can help bring this blended solution to our homes and businesses. Transmission lines that pair hydro and wind enable these complementary resources to work together: When the wind blows, New England is delivered clean energy, and when it doesn’t, hydropower from Canada fills the line. Hydropower from Quebec and onshore wind power from upstate New York and Maine can provide abundant clean power, quickly.

Together, the combination can help the region diversify its energy supply, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, and meet state requirements for clean energy in a timely way – all while lowering the cost of energy in New England.

Offshore wind, hydro, solar are important, but so, too, is the introduction of more onshore wind to our region. In fact, the combination of onshore wind and hydropower is an even more efficient bridge to offshore development.

 

Ed Krapels is CEO of Anbaric, an energy transmission company. James Murphy is Vice President of Business Development of Invenergy, a US-based owner and operator of renewables.