Offshore wind training facility lands at MMA

Posted Nov 3, 2019 at 10:49 AM

BUZZARDS BAY — With the pop of a champagne bottle, a new offshore wind training facility officially opened for business off the docks of Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

State officials gathered at the Taylors Point campus late last month to launch the facility, which will train workers including welders, divers and electricians, as well as academy cadets, how to work on future offshore wind projects.

State and academy officials called the facility the first of its kind in the nation.

“This is the start of something that is going to be very, very big,” Gov. Charlie Baker said. “It will ultimately affect job opportunities, not just here in Massachusetts, but in New England and all the way down the coast.”

It is expected that 250 to 300 people will be trained through the facility each year, according to Paul O’Keefe, vice president of operations at the maritime academy.

Located at the end of a pier at the edge of the campus, the training platform uses the same types of rails and ladders that would be found on a real turbine, O’Keefe said. A 64-foot Carolina Skiff has been modified to simulate work crew transfer to the craft, he said.

“In other countries you see just a swimming pool inside a building,” O’Keefe said. “We are trying to simulate the real thing.”

The training facility will follow the standards set by the Global Wind Organization, which is made up of industry stakeholders who set the training requirements.

Workers being trained through the facility will first undergo basic safety training. The six-day course will focus on first aid, manual handling, fire awareness, working at great heights and sea survival, O’Keefe said.

The heights portion of the course will take place in the academy’s newly constructed indoor climbing facility, and a sea survival course will take place at the crew transfer training facility at the end of the pier.

The academy has partnered with Relyon Nutec, the world’s largest provider of Global Wind Organization training, to help train instructors.

“This package we are doing here, we’re talking about jobs, energy and zero emissions — that sounds like a no-brainer,” the academy’s president, Rear Adm. Francis MacDonald, said. “But for some reason it has taken us a long time to get there in this commonwealth.”

The academy received more than $1.73 million in grants from the Baker-Polito administration and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center in support of the training facility and basic safety program.

The training facility will help increase the workforce for the offshore wind industry. That includes those who will work on the construction and operation of Vineyard Wind’s 800-megawatt project planned for 15 miles off the coast of Massachusetts.

A study from the Clean Energy Center estimates that in the next decade, offshore wind farms will create 2,000 to 3,000 jobs and generate as much as $2 billion in the region.

But Stephen Pike, CEO of the Clean Energy Center, said “finding the right folks” to work on offshore wind projects is still one big challenge facing companies in the industry.

“It is a brand new industry in the U.S.,” Pike said. “Essentially no one is qualified to do the work that these companies need done.”

The state has to do a better job at connecting businesses to workers and those workers to training resources, Pike said. That way, it will create a pipeline of workers, he said.

In explaining the vision for the new training facility, U.S. Rep. William Keating, D-Mass., quoted an iconic line from the movie “Field of Dreams.”

“Build it and they will come,” he said. “That’s what this is all about.”

Keating believes there is potential for the state and the country to take a leadership role in offshore wind. But to do that, a greater investment must be made both in-state and nationally in the blue economy, he said.

During the next 30 years, the blue economy will be growing twice as fast as the global economy, Keating said. To tap into that now, he said, there has to be infrastructure in the ground, such as the new training facility.

“If we don’t have trained personnel for those jobs we are just not going to be successful,” Keating said.

Providing the tools to create more offshore wind jobs also will help fight climate change while providing well-paying jobs and preserving the ocean, Keating said.

“Let’s go forward,” he said.

Original story here.

Mayflower Wind wins Massachusetts’ second offshore wind contract

Posted Oct 30, 2019 at 1:22 PM. Updated Oct 30, 2019 at 3:52 PM

BOSTON — Mayflower Wind Energy has won the bidding war for Massachusetts’ second offshore wind contract.

The state’s electric companies selected the lowest-cost of Mayflower’s four bids, rather than ones designed to invest in port infrastructure or build a new manufacturing facility.

“When it was balanced on whole, this was the one that was most competitive on price and economic development,” state energy commissioner Judith Judson told reporters on a press call Wednesday. “Mayflower’s package for all their bids included significant economic development.”

Mayflower beat Bay State Wind and Vineyard Wind, both of which also submitted multiple bids with different selling points.

Electricity distribution companies Eversource, National Grid, and Unitil selected the winner in a state-supervised process created by Massachusetts’ 2016 energy diversity law, which required them to buy long-term contracts for at least 1,600 megawatts of energy from offshore wind.

Mayflower’s winning bid calls for 804 megawatts of generation capacity. Together with last year’s winning bid by Vineyard Wind for 800 megawatts, the state has fulfilled its procurement obligation under the 2016 law.

The companies have not yet signed contracts with Mayflower. Wednesday’s announcement begins the negotiation phase. The bid schedule calls for contracts to be executed by Dec. 13 and sent to the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities for approval.

Judson said the evaluators considered the proposals’ direct effect on the local economy, including the number of jobs they would bring, binding commitments they would make, and the overall scale and credibility of the offers.

“We are confident what they put forward in that bid provides significant economic benefits to Massachusetts and the SouthCoast region,” she said.

The federal approval process for Vineyard Wind’s 2018 winning bid has stalled, leaving the construction timeline for that project uncertain. How that delay could affect Mayflower remains uncertain.

Mayflower Wind Energy is a joint venture of the Shell oil company and EDP Renewables, which is part of the Portuguese energy company EDP (Energias de Portugal).

Original story here.

3 offshore wind bids released

NEW BEDFORD — We have three bidders for Round 2 of offshore wind.

The bid evaluation team for Massachusetts’ second offshore wind farm released bids Thursday from three familiar names: Bay State Wind, Mayflower Wind and Vineyard Wind.

As expected, their prices and certain other particulars have been redacted.

In New Bedford, which has sought to position itself as a hub for offshore wind, Mayor Jon Mitchell is eager to see the bidders commit to providing economic benefits for the region.

“It will be critically important that the evaluation team carefully weighs the economic development proposals in each of the bids and what they might mean to investment and job creation in New Bedford,” he told The Standard-Times in an interview.

The city is home to the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal, which will be a staging point for construction of Vineyard Wind 1, the wind farm that won a contract last year. Federal permits for that project are still pending, and the timeline has stretched beyond what Vineyard Wind anticipated.

This is the second solicitation under the state’s 2016 energy law, which requires electric companies to buy 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2027.

The request for proposals required each bidder to submit a bid for a 400-megawatt wind farm. They could also submit projects between 200 and 800 megawatts.

According to their bids or previous public statements, their bids are:

• Bay State Wind – 400 mw and 800 mw

• Mayflower Wind – 408 mw and three proposals at 804 mw each

• Vineyard Wind – 400 mw and 800 mw, with two options for the latter.

Mayflower Wind has said its three 800-megwatt proposals are customized to highlight different goals: Low-Price Energy, Infrastructure and Innovation, and Massachusetts Manufacturing.

Of the bidders, Mayflower is the only one that did not bid last year. Its wind farm would be located about 20 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard, south of Bay State Wind and Vineyard Wind.

Last year, the evaluators surprised many observers by awarding a full 800-megawatt contract to Vineyard Wind, rather than splitting the business between two companies at 400 megawatts each.

Vineyard Wind has signed a lease to use the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal to stage construction of turbines. Last summer, the company said it would likely add Brayton Point as another staging location.

Three electricity distribution companies — Eversource, National Grid and Unitil — and the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources comprise the evaluation team.

Original story here

Bay State Wind vying for Massachusetts’ second wind farm

BOSTON – Bay State Wind, a 50/50 joint venture between Danish energy company Ørsted and New England energy company Eversource, has submitted a bid for Massachusetts’ second solicitation for commercial offshore wind.

The proposal, submitted Friday, includes 400-megawatt and 800-megawatt options.

Friday, Aug. 23 is the deadline for confidential bids. By Aug. 30, companies must submit public versions of those bids.

Bay State Wind said its venture, which has been in development since 2015, offers “unmatched project maturity,” has demonstrated a significant willingness to work with the fishing industry and people concerned about marine life, and has committed to making meaningful local investments.

Bay State Wind bid unsuccessfully in the state’s first solicitation in 2017.

“Our project will not only create jobs and provide local investment, it will be delivered by the offshore wind’s leading experts to ensure the project is achievable, sustainable and successful for the commonwealth,” Ørsted’s Thomas Brostrøm said in a news release. Brostrøm is president of Ørsted North America and CEO of Ørsted U.S. Offshore Wind.

Lee Olivier, an executive vice president at Eversource, said, “We are thrilled to once again help Massachusetts take the next step to grow its clean energy economy.”

According to Bay State Wind, the 800-megawatt proposal could generate enough energy for up to 500,000 Massachusetts homes and deliver greenhouse gas reductions equivalent to taking up to 350,000 cars off the road.

Vineyard Wind, which received the first Massachusetts contract, had hoped to begin construction this year on its $2.8 billion, 84-turbine wind farm. A key federal permit was expected in July, but federal officials decided to first conduct a broader review of the potential effects of offshore wind development on the East Coast, creating a delay whose full effect is not yet known.

Original story here.

Vineyard Wind submits bid No. 2

Posted Aug 23, 2019 at 3:07 PM

Vineyard Wind is bidding for another wind farm.

The company submitted a bid Friday for Massachusetts’ second solicitation for commercial offshore wind. Bay State Wind announced a bid earlier in the day.

Both companies made the announcements on their own initiative; the state plans to keep the names of bidders confidential until at least Aug. 30.

Vineyard Wind said it has proposed the required 400-megawatt option, plus two options for an 800-megawatt project.

“Vineyard Wind is very excited to submit these proposals, which offer significant job creation and port infrastructure investment opportunity for the region, while ensuring an attractive, fixed price for electric ratepayers,” Vineyard Wind CEO Lars Pedersen said in a news release. “We look forward to announcing additional details on this exciting project in the weeks ahead.”

The proposed wind farm, dubbed Vineyard Wind 2, would be built in Vineyard Wind’s lease area, south of the Vineyard Wind 1 project. The design for Vineyard Wind 2 shows turbines in rows aligned east to west, with spacing of one nautical mile between turbines, according to the release.

In 2018, Vineyard Wind won Massachusetts’ first contract for commercial offshore wind. Construction was scheduled to start this year, but the schedule is now uncertain because the project has been delayed in the federal permitting process. The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has said it wants to conduct a broad review of the potential effects of offshore wind on the East Coast, a decision applauded by the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance, a fishing industry group.

Confidential bids are due Friday, Aug. 23 for Massachusetts’ second solicitation. By Aug. 30, companies must submit public versions of those bids.

Original story here.

New Bedford cited as a leader among clean energy communities

Local leaders gathered last week to celebrate New Bedford’s inclusion in a new Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center report on innovative clean energy programs at the municipal level.

“The best ideas for clean energy often start at the local level,” said Ben Hellerstein, state director for the policy center, in a press release. “If we want to have cleaner air, healthier communities, and a safer future for our children, we need to move rapidly toward 100% renewable energy from sources like the sun and the wind. New Bedford is showing how to make it happen.”

The report, Renewable Communities, features New Bedford alongside 21 other Massachusetts cities and towns that are leading the way to 100% renewable energy, according the policy center.

The report discusses renewable electricity, energy efficiency, clean transportation and heating, and energy storage programs, including New Bedford’s successful efforts to add electric vehicles to the municipal fleet.

“As a coastal city and the center of the commercial fishing industry on the East Coast, New Bedford has a lot at stake when it comes to climate change and sea-level rise,” said New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell in the press statement. “We have led by example on these issues, so we appreciate the recognition of our efforts to embrace renewable energy. We have installed more than 16 megawatts of land-based solar and wind projects, positioned ourselves to be a leader in offshore wind energy, and pushed hard to convert our municipal fleet to electric vehicles.”

Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center shared a preview of the report, including a profile of New Bedford’s clean energy efforts. The full version of the report will be released on Friday, Aug. 2.

New Bedford has now converted more than 25% of its municipal passenger vehicles to electric vehicles. The city is believed to have a higher percentage of electric vehicles in its municipal passenger fleet than any other community in Massachusetts, according to the press statement from the policy center.

The city has also installed 16 megawatts of solar and wind generation, saving taxpayers approximately $1 million per year in avoided energy costs, the statement said.

The Environmental Massachusetts Research and Policy Center report comes as legislators consider a statewide commitment to 100% renewable energy.

The 100% Renewable Energy Act (H.2836, S.1958) would transition Massachusetts to 100% renewable electricity by 2035, and phase out the use of fossil fuels for heating and transportation by 2045. The Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy held a hearing on the bill last week.

So far, 113 legislators have endorsed the 100% Renewable Energy Act.

“I had the valuable opportunity to work on the GreenWorks legislation that passed the House this past Wednesday and the theme that kept coming up was that there needs to be an equal focus placed on both adaptation and mitigation,” said Rep. Antonio Cabral, D-New Bedford, in the press release. “As a state, we must collectively lower emissions and consume less energy. At the city-level, New Bedford has made significant progress on this mitigation front . . . We all have a role to play in the fight against climate change – we just need to use the tools available to us.”

“At the SouthCoast Chamber, we are happy to see clean energy become more accessible for families and businesses,” said Rick Kidder, President and CEO of the SouthCoast Chamber of Commerce. “Achieving 100% renewable energy for Massachusetts would keep more dollars within our local economy and presents a great opportunity for job growth.”

Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center is visiting five other communities across Massachusetts to share the findings of the report.

“Communities like New Bedford are leading the way on clean energy,” said Hellerstein. “We hope to see state leaders follow their example.”