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Rhode Island delays clean energy RFP bid, contract process

Rhode Island has pushed back by more than a month its timeline for selecting winning bids and negotiating contracts related to its 2018 request for proposals for up to 400 MW of renewable energy.

The National Grid PLC-owned website detailing the evaluation process of Rhode Island's clean energy request for proposals, or RFP, shows that the anticipated date for the "conditional" selection of winning projects has been moved from May 2 to June 14, while the deadline for contract negotiations and executions has been pushed back from July 29 to Sept. 10. Finally, the anticipated date for contract submissions to the state Public Utilities Commission for regulatory approval, which previously was set for Aug. 30, now is Oct. 12.

At the direction of Gov. Gina Raimondo, a Democrat, Rhode Island's largest electric distribution utility National Grid USA in September 2018 issued the competitive clean energy RFP in coordination with the state Office of Energy Resources and the state Division of Public Utilities and Carriers. The National Grid subsidiary operates locally as Narragansett Electric Co.

Rhode Island's clean energy RFP offers to award power purchase agreements of 10 to 15 years to renewable energy resources that have an individual nameplate capacity of between 20 MW and 200 MW. Proposal submissions closed in October 2018, resulting in 41 bids with a total capacity of nearly 2,500 MW from 11 renewable developers.

Deepwater Wind, which has since been acquired by Denmark-based Ørsted A/S to create subsidiary Ørsted US Offshore Wind, submitted two offshore wind proposals for the RFP. One bid would expand by 100 MW the 600-MW Revolution Wind Offshore project, which already has been selected to supply 400 MW towards Rhode Island's 1,000-MW goal by 2020, with the remaining 200 MW of the project's capacity slated for Connecticut. The second project, named Independent Wind, would be a new 350-MW offshore wind facility in the Rhode Island-Massachusetts wind expansion area. Eversource Energy is Ørsted's partner in the Revolution Wind project.

Additionally, Vineyard Wind LLC submitted bids for either a 200-MW or a 350-MW offshore wind project. Vineyard Wind is a joint venture between Denmark-based Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners K/S and Avangrid Inc. subsidiary Avangrid Renewables LLC. And like Ørsted, Vineyard Wind holds leases in federal waters near Rhode Island Sound. The majority stakeholder of Avangrid is Spain-based Iberdrola SA.

In addition to 400 MW from the Revolution Wind project, Rhode Island has already secured Ørsted US Offshore Wind's operating 30-MW Block Island Offshore Wind farm, in its pursuit of increasing the state's low-carbon generation portfolio.