Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has given the state a target of 2000 MW of wind power by 2020, up from its current 5 MW. No new policy specifics, funding or executive order accompanies the announcement, but Robert Keough of the governor's Energy and Environmental Affairs office says it does plan changes in policy and state agency operations to make Massachusetts more inviting to wind. Behind the new impetus is the Green Communities Act approved by lawmakers last year (Windpower Monthly, August 2008). The reform includes moving permitting jurisdiction from the local zoning level to the state level. Currently, local jurisdictions often opposed to wind have authority to approve power projects under 100 MW. The state level Energy Facilities Siting Commission, friendlier to wind, is expected to take regulatory control of projects smaller than 100 MW. Furthermore, new state plans for ocean energy management are expected to enable development of offshore wind projects in state waters, which extend five kilometres from shorelines. All energy projects have in the past been banned from state waters, but the recent Ocean Act effectively ended that prohibition and final rules are expected by the end of the year. Despite a tough permitting environment, high prices are the prize sought by developers. "Massachusetts has among the highest electricity costs in the nation and generally is a place where renewables become competitive sooner than in other parts of the country," says Keough. "The price on electricity is set by natural gas and in Massachusetts we are at the end of all the natural gas pipelines so we take high prices."
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