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    JERA Americas wants to buy three Sandwich power plants, tap into wind farms


    May 19, 2022 - Denise Coffey, Cape Cod Times

     

      EDITOR NOTE: This story was updated May 19, 2022, to correct information about the first utility-scale offshore wind farm expected to be built off Massachusetts.

      SANDWICHHouston-based JERA Americas has reached an agreement to buy three generating facilities in Sandwich as part of a deal with Stonepeak. The facilities are Canal 1, Canal 2 and Canal 3.

      The acquisition would also include a Stonepeak facility in Bucksport, Maine. The four facilities generate a combined 1,633 megawatts. JERA Vice President of Government and Regulatory Affairs John O'Brien declined to disclose the financial terms of the deal.

      The company plans to keep the Sandwich plants' 48 employees when the purchase is approved.

      O'Brien expects it will take three to four months to obtain the necessary federal approvals before the acquisition is complete. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission must approve the sale, and because JERA Americas is a Houston-based subsidiary of JERA, a Japanese company, its purchase requires federal approval.

      O'Brien is confident the company will get those approvals. "JERA has been through that before on other transactions," he said. "We think it will go smoothly."

      JERA America is the US arm of JERA, the largest power company in Japan. It produces about 30% of that country's electricity.

      The first step is to obtain approval and close on the sale of the plants.

      The second step is two-fold. The company plans to talk with offshore wind farm operators about interconnections. It also wants to consider different types of low-carbon fuels that could be used at the sites.

      The Sandwich plants currently operate on oil and gas. O'Brien said company officials would consider using low-carbon or renewable diesel fuels instead. The plants could use up to 1,500 megawatts of wind power. But that depends on the interconnection rights and agreements developed with ISO New England and Eversource, he said.

      More: These 4 MA communities are uniquely tackling climate change.

      The plant is approved for delivering up to 1,500 megawatts of electricity into the regional power grid. But it's only used during times of peak demand, according to an existing Stonepeak interconnection agreement.

      O'Brien estimated that in general, the units run 5% of the year. Times of extreme heat and cold are when they are needed.

      JERA indicated that Canal is a perfect example of being able to locate off-shore wind with a plant that is still needed, according to O'Brien.

      Vineyard Wind 1, to be built south of Martha's Vineyard, is expected to be the first utility-scale offshore wind farm in the nation, with 62 wind turbines and generating 800 megawatts of power annually.

      O'Brien and JERA are confident more wind farms are coming, as indicated by the number of requests for proposals in Massachusetts alone.

      "There will be more wind," he said.

      More: When nuclear power plants close, greenhouse gas emissions increase. Why you should care.

      The company is intent on finding ways to get to net-zero carbon emissions. It has invested in Zenobe, a company researching battery storage, to reach that goal. If batteries become a viable solution, the Canal plants will have room for battery storage, but there is no immediate plan for it, O'Brien said.

      An MIT study, "The Future of Energy Storage," released Monday, found that energy storage systems such as massive batteries could nearly eliminate the need for fossil fuels to operate regional power grids.

      New England has only 62 megawatts of battery storage capacity, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

      More: Baker proposes $3.5B bill that could make Massachusetts the leader in offshore wind

      "We're agnostic in terms of what technologies will get us to net zero," O'Brien said. "All of these technologies are going to evolve and be refined and get better."

      JERA Americas employs 15 workers across all its locations and generates an estimated $19 million in sales, according to Dunn and Bradstreet.

      Contact Denise Coffey at dcoffey@capecodonline.com. Follow her on Twitter: @DeniseCoffeyCCT.

      Curious Cape Cod: Drink in the water views on this epic marsh hike in Sandwich

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