New England coal plant bought for conversion to offshore wind hub

Commercial Development Company Inc. (CDC), a brownfield real estate developer with a history of acquiring and redeveloping retired US coal plants, has struck a deal to buy the shuttered 1.5GW Brayton Point plant in southern Massachusetts – with an eye towards transforming the site into an offshore wind hub.

CDC, a privately owned company based in St. Louis, Missouri, announced a deal this week to buy the retired Brayton Point Power Station for an undisclosed sum from fossil-fired generation giant Dynegy.

Dynegy acquired the then-operational Brayton Point plant in 2015, but amid tightening environmental regulations and worsening economics for coal-fired generation in the US, New England’s largest coal plant was switched off for good earlier this year.

CDC says it plans to “dramatically transform” the 307-acre (1.25 sq km) waterfront site, with one prominent possibility for “post-coal utilisation” centred on converting it into an offshore wind hub.

CDC itself would not enter the offshore wind business, but says it will begin a "global marketing campaign" to find "appropriate end users" for the site.

“Multiple factors attracted us to this site, [but] of greatest interest was the potential for renewable energy development,” says CDC chief executive Randall Jostes.

The acquisition is expected to close in mid-December, and has received “tremendous support” from “local and state leadership”, CDC says.

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CDC will assume responsibility for legacy environmental liabilities at the site. After the deal is finalised, the developer plans to begin environmental remediation work and demolition of most of the coal-related infrastructure – opening the space to a variety of potential uses.

From its position along Narragansett Bay, Brayton Point is just 37 nautical miles (69km) from the edge of a group of large offshore wind development zones south of Martha’s Vineyard.

Developers Deepwater Wind, Orsted and Vineyard Wind plan to bid capacity from the zones into Massachusetts' current offshore wind request for proposal, the first such offshore-only power tender in US history.

In its recent Offshore Wind Ports & Infrastructure Assessment report, the state-backed Massachusetts Clean Energy Center highlighted Brayton Point as a strong contender to become part of a regional offshore wind supply chain.

The report says Brayton Point is “ideal for a broad range of manufacturing activities”, with one of the largest available waterfront acreages in the northeastern US, and a location in a neighbourhood that is used to heavy industry.

Brayton Point is an hour’s drive south of Boston, and less than half an hour from New Bedford, Massachusetts, where Orsted, Vineyard and Deepwater have committed to using the MassCEC-owned Marine Commerce Terminal.

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