Published in the April 27, 2016 edition
By MAUREEN DOHERTY
LYNNFIELD — Given the overwhelming bipartisan support of a recent solar energy bill in the Legislature and signed by the governor coupled with the failure of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, a climate of cooperation has emerged that could reshape the future of the state’s energy infrastructure.
“In the wake of Kinder Morgan halting a proposed natural gas pipeline, there was a collective sigh of relief from the residents of Lynnfield. However, we should now all turn our attention to the state-wide energy issue,” Selectman Richard Dalton told the Villager this week.
Newly elected to the board two weeks ago, Dalton shared his views on the topic from the broader perspective of addressing the next generation of the state’s energy needs.
He has gained this perspective from his role as the Greater Boston Regional Director for the Massachusetts Office of Business Development. He works with both municipalities looking to attract businesses to their communities and businesses interested in expanding within the state or coming into the state for the first time, including helping them with tax incentives.
Recently, Dalton said was approached by representatives of DONG Energy, the Danish Oil and Natural Gas Co., which he said is Europe’s leading manufacturer of wind turbines as well as the world leader in constructing and managing offshore wind farms. Dalton arranged meetings between Gov. Charlie Baker and the state secretaries of both Energy and the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development with executives from DONG and its German partner, Siemens.
“I have been closely involved with DONG Energy’s efforts to establish off-shore wind as one of several sources of power generation for the commonwealth. The federal government has awarded the company a site that is 15 miles offshore from the Cape and Islands,” Dalton said. DONG is attracted to the Northeast because “they say it’s some of the best wind in the world. It’s just like it is off the shores of Europe where they’re operating,” Dalton said.
He added, “The wind farm industry in Europe has created 50,000 jobs. They rely on it much more heavily than we could even think of right now.”
Dalton said DONG is interested in more than just building and maintaining a wind farm off the coast of Massachusetts, which would create about 200 construction jobs. The company also wants to manufacture its wind turbines and the special ships needed to transport the parts out to sea here as well, which could result in at least 2,000 new jobs, he said.
The turbines would most likely be built in Fall River while the ships would most likely be built at the Fore River Shipyard in Quincy, and these would be long-term jobs because the company envisions expanding its operations along the East Coast, Dalton said.
The role of the legislature and the governor in this process would be to create the climate that would enable wind energy to eventually account for about 5 percent of the state’s megawatt needs, Dalton said. He believes action needs to be taken during the current legislative session, prior to their recess in July, to get a wind farm built prior to the retirement of other sources of energy for the state.
“We’re going to be losing the Pilgrim Nuclear and other plants. This is our one opportunity to do something that will offset those retirements,” Dalton said, which could result in the loss of up to 10,000 megawatts of electricity by 2020.
“Gov. Charlie Baker has been urging the Legislature to enact a comprehensive energy strategy that promotes and encourages alternate energy sources,” he said, with a mix of hydro power, on-shore wind and off-shore wind.
Dalton continued, “Various studies conclude that displacing natural gas-fired electricity generation with hydropower or a combination of hydro and wind results in substantial annual savings to Massachusetts’ energy consumers as well as dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.”
Katie Gronendyke, press secretary for the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, reinforced Dalton’s sentiment in a statement to the Villager.
“The Baker-Polito Administration believes the announcement (of Kinder Morgan’s withdrawal) highlights the pressing need to secure cost-effective hydropower and other renewable energy resources to meet the growing demand for affordable energy in Massachusetts and New England,” Gronendyke stated.
House urges action
The House is expected to take up an omnibus energy bill before the formal session ends in July.
State Rep. Brad Jones, the House Minority Leader, and Lynnfield’s state representative, teamed up with Rep. Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington) to submit a letter to House Speaker Robert DeLeo two weeks ago. It was endorsed by 95 members of the House and requested that the energy bill proposed by the House does not “include any language that would require the state’s ratepayers to foot the costs of constructing gas pipeline expansion projects like the Kinder Morgan proposal,” stated Michael Smith, communications director for Jones.
The letter also calls on the House to promote cleaner sources of energy, like off-shore wind and hydropower, Smith said.