by Sarah B. Tracy
On September 20, 2013, Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced that two renewable energy projects have signed long-term contracts as a result of the July 8, 2013 Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Request for Proposals (RFPs) from private developers to provide energy and renewable energy credits (RECs) from Class I renewable resources:
- The Number Nine Wind Farm, a 250 MW land-based wind farm to be developed by EDP Renewables North America LLC and located in Aroostook County, Maine; and
- The Fusion Solar Center, a 20 MW AC solar photovoltaic system which will be located in Sprague and Lisbon, Connecticut, on land primarily owned by the Connecticut-based Fusion Paperboard Company. The project developer for the Fusion Solar Center is HelioSage Energy.
Both EDP Renewables and HelioSage Energy have signed long-term contracts with Connecticut’s two major electric distribution companies, Connecticut Light & Power and United Illuminating, for the purchase of the combined 270 megawatts of electricity and related renewable energy credits. According to Governor Malloy, the cost of power from the two projects will average under eight cents per kilowatt hour, a price close to matching the cost of power generated from conventional fossil fuel plants and some of the lowest costs ever obtained for solar and wind power in the region.
Connecticut DEEP issued the RFP pursuant to section 6 of Connecticut’s Act Concerning Connecticut’s Clean Energy Goals (Public Act 13-303), which permitted the DEEP Commissioner to solicit long-term contract proposals for solicitations from Class I renewable energy resources. The Act also permitted the DEEP Commissioner to select proposals from such resources to meet up to 4% of the load distributed by Connecticut’s electric distribution companies if such proposals are in the interest of ratepayers, consistent with requirements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and in accordance with the policy goals outlined in Connecticut’s Comprehensive Energy Strategy.
DEEP considered the proposals on an expedited basis to maximize the likelihood that selected projects would be eligible for certain federal tax benefits, thereby lowering the cost of access to renewable supplies of electric power. According to the Act, the agreements are subject to review and approval by Connecticut’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA). PURA’s review will begin upon the filing of the signed power purchase agreements with the agency and its review must be completed within thirty days, or the agreements are deemed approved. The net costs of the agreements will be recovered through electric rates for all electric distribution company customers.