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October 26, 2016

Ranger Solar beats CMP and Emera Maine on clean-energy bid

Courtesy / T.J. Boyle Associates A rendering of a utility-scale solar project Ranger Solar is pursuing in Ludlow, Vt.

Yarmouth-based Ranger Solar is a big winner in the southern New England states’ selection of projects they believe will help them achieve ambitious clean energy goals, being one of four companies selected out of 24 bidders to enter contract negotiations with Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

A panel representing the three states announced the result on Tuesday after a 10-month selection process.

As reported by Mainebiz, Ranger Solar has secured a long-term lease with the city of Sanford to build a utility-scale 50-megawatt solar array on 390 acres of city-owned property at Sanford-Seacoast Regional Airport. That project is expected to provide enough electricity to power up to 20,000 homes. Ranger Solar’s winning proposal also includes a 50MW project in Farmington, 20MW and 50MW projects in Connecticut and a 50MW project in New Hampshire.

Massachusetts and Rhode Island separately selected a solar project in Connecticut proposed by Deepwater Wind, the developer of the nation’s first offshore wind project, which completed construction of its 30MW five-turbine offshore wind project off Rhode Island in August. 

Ambitious transmission proposals submitted by Central Maine Power and Emera Maine to deliver renewable wind energy from northern and western Maine were rejected by the three southern New England states:

  • A joint project proposed by the two utilities, called the Maine Renewable Energy Interconnect, would have linked the proposed 600MW King Pine wind farm and another 650MW from two other Aroostook County projects, Number Nine Wind Farm and Horse Mountain, via a new 150-mile transmission line that would connect with the regional grid in Pittsfield.
  • CMP’s separate proposal, called Clean Power Connection, proposed a new 66-mile transmission line in western Maine extending from Johnson Mountain Township near Jackman to the main grid connection in Pittsfield to connect 550MW from several wind energy projects in western Maine.

CMP spokesman John Carroll told the Portland Press Herald that while it’s disappointing the utilities’ proposals and the corresponding wind projects were passed over by the three states, he was hopeful both projects would eventually be built.

The newspaper also reported that Bob Kump, CEO of networks for CMP’s parent company Avangrid, was optimistic that both projects would be strong contenders under a separate clean energy process initiated by the Massachusetts legislature to seek long-term contracts for up to 1,600MW of offshore wind energy and 1,200MW of power from onshore wind, solar and hydropower.

What comes next?

The three states collectively selected projects that represent roughly 460 megawatts of clean energy for the New England market. Tuesday’s announcement allows the selected bidders and projects to advance to contract negotiations, with the understanding that final acceptance of bids and awarding of contracts will be contingent on the approved contracts and regulatory approvals.

“Not all projects selected to advance to contract negotiation at this stage will necessarily obtain approved contracts, which may affect the total contracted MWs resulting from this RFP,” the three states said in their joint statement announcing the winning bids.

Besides Ranger Solar, the winning bidders selected by the three states are: Antrim Wind, which is proposing a 28.8MW wind project in New Hampshire; Cassadaga Wind, proposing a 126MW wind project in New York; and two submissions from RES Americas for solar projects in Connecticut and Rhode Island.

The other bidder besides Deepwater Wind selected separately by Massachusetts and Rhode Island was Ameresco, which has proposed a 20MW solar project in New Milford, Conn.

The New England Clean Power RFP required a minimum project size of 20MW of renewable power to qualify — enough power for roughly 10,000 homes — and is based on the premise that the three southern New England states would have more buying power collectively than on their own.

It proved to be a complex procurement, pitting 24 proposals involving large-scale solar, wind, fuel cell and hydro projects against each other for a share of the long-term power contracts promised by the RFP, and required several additional months of review beyond its original July deadline for announcing the winning bids.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Massachusetts and Rhode Island had selected Deepwater Wind's offshore wind project to advance to contract negotiations. The Deepwater Wind project selected by the two states, instead, involves a new 26.4 megawatt grid-scale solar project in Simsbury, Conn. 

Read more

CMP, Emera unveil ambitious transmission project for northern Maine

Need for clean energy spurs wind farm development — and opposition

Ranger Solar advances its 50MW solar project at Sanford airport

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