New Bedford Port Authority to become fisheries rep to offshore wind

NEW BEDFORD — The New Bedford Port Authority has reached an agreement with all offshore wind developers operating in the Massachusetts/Rhode Island market to serve as the designated Fisheries Representative of the commercial fishing industry to each of the development companies, according to a news release.

Under federal guidelines issued by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management offshore wind developers must establish a fisheries representative to be the fishing community’s primary point of contact for communicating project-related concerns to the developer.

“The NBPA has been contracted by the developers to represent the interests of commercial fishermen, and to be a conduit of information between the developers and the commercial fishing industry as offshore wind farms are developed on the Outer Continental Shelf,” said Port Authority Director Ed Anthes-Washburn in a statement. “We’re very excited to have all three developers on board for this timely announcement. Adequate and sustained engagement with the fishing industry will translate into more conciliatory communications and interactions with fishing communities up and down the eastern seaboard as the offshore wind industry begins in the United States.”

In this role, the Port Authority will act as a central clearinghouse of information, convene stakeholders, facilitate dialogue between fishermen and respective developers, and advocate for ways to mitigate impacts of wind projects on commercial fishermen, according to the release. The Port Authority will also work with state and federal agencies to adopt policies and regulations needed to ensure the viability of commercial fishing operations.

“As the epicenter of commercial fishing in the Northwest Atlantic, New Bedford is the most logical place for the offshore wind industry to interface with fishermen,” said New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell, who also serves as chair of the NBPA, in a statement. “The New Bedford Port Authority is a key organization to successfully facilitate the development of the offshore wind industry within a vibrant commercial fishing community.”

Offshore wind power won’t raise electric bills

Turns out, offshore wind doesn’t have to raise your electric bills.

Electricity prices for Vineyard Wind, set to become the first large-scale offshore wind farm in the United States, will actually lower consumer electric bills by a small margin, generally 20 to 40 cents on a $100 monthly bill, according to documents made public Wednesday.

Some customers’ savings will be slightly lower or higher, depending on location and usage.

Massachusetts’ three electricity distribution companies finished negotiating their power contracts with Vineyard Wind and filed those contracts Tuesday with the Department of Public Utilities for approval.

The pricing stands in contrast with the previously proposed Cape Wind project, which at one point was projected to raise a typical monthly bill by $1.08.

 

Massachusetts Gains Foothold in Offshore Wind Power, Long Ignored in U.S.

New York Times

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. — On the waterfront of this fabled former whaling hub, the outlines of a major new industry are starting to appear.

Crews of research boats perform last-minute tuneups before heading out to map the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. A large weather buoy decked out with gear for measuring wind speeds waits on the quay for repairs. And a 1,200-foot stretch of the port has been beefed up to bear enormous loads.

New Bedford hopes to soon be the operations center for the first major offshore wind farm in the United States, bringing billions of dollars of investment and thousands of jobs to the town and other ports on the East Coast.

On Wednesday, that effort took a major step forward as the State of Massachusetts, after holding an auction, selected a group made up of a Danish investment firm and a Spanish utility to erect giant turbines on the ocean bottom, beginning about 15 miles off Martha’s Vineyard. This initial project will generate 800 megawatts of electricity, roughly enough to power a half a million homes. At the same time, Rhode Island announced it would award a 400-megawatt offshore wind project to another bidder in the auction.

The groups must now work out the details of their contracts with the states’ utilities.

“We see this not just as a project but as the beginning of an industry,” Lars Thaaning Pedersen, the chief executive of Vineyard Wind, which was awarded the Massachusetts contract, said in an interview.

Offshore wind farms have increasingly become mainstream sources of power in Northern Europe, and are fast becoming among the cheapest sources of electricity in countries like Britain and Germany. Those power sources in those two countries already account for more than 12 gigawatts of electricity generation capacity.

But the United States has largely not followed that lead, with just one relatively small offshore wind farm built off the coast of Rhode Island. Currently, the entire country’s offshore wind capacity is just 30 megawatts.

Jeff Grybowski, chief executive of Deepwater Wind, which won the Rhode Island portion, said that together the two projects add up to a European-scale package. “This shows the U.S. is catching up rapidly to the developments in Europe,” he said.

Such projects have run into opposition here over both cost and aesthetics — utilities are typically required to opt for the cheapest sources of power, and communities have resisted plans regarded as eyesores. Senator Edward M. Kennedy helped block a wind project off the coast of Cape Cod that would have been visible from the family estate.

But the technology has the potential to bring large supplies of energy to the Northeast. Arrays of wind turbines with generation capacities comparable to major conventional power plants would be mostly out of sight, albeit within easy transmission reach of large population centers like Boston and New York City.

“We could run the whole East Coast on offshore wind,” said Amory B. Lovins, co-founder and chief scientist at the Rocky Mountain Institute, a Colorado-based nonprofit organization that advises on renewable energy.

Massachusetts is looking to capitalize. It wants to add 1,600 megawatts of electricity by 2027. That would be enough to power a third of all residential homes in the state and supply 11 percent of its overall needs. The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, a state agency, also estimates that the projects could generate 9,850 jobs over 10 years, and add $2.1 billion to the state’s economy.

Developers say the state’s plan includes a series of projects large enough to help spawn a network of local suppliers of everything from components for the turbines to services like maintaining them, and drive down costs. Other states are pushing forward as well. Connecticut will soon name a developer for an offshore wind project of its own, while New York and New Jersey have both announced ambitious plans.

New England is particularly well suited to offshore wind farms. There is not enough land for wind turbines onshore, and the area is not ideal for solar power. At the same time, Massachusetts has been under pressure to find new sources of energy to replace aging conventional and nuclear plants, as well as meet targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions blamed for climate change.

The state is betting that, by investing in offshore wind decades after Northern Europe first tested the technology, it can avoid some of the growing pains experienced across the Atlantic.

For years, projects there required large government subsidies to be economically viable. Recently, technical advances and plummeting prices have meant that countries like Germany and the Netherlands have been able to award offshore wind projects with zero subsidies. As a bonus, offshore wind farms have supported thousands of jobs in port cities in the region.

Two of the three bids in Massachusetts came from European developers. The winner was a joint venture of Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, a Danish renewable energy investment firm, and a subsidiary of Iberdrola, a Spanish utility. The other bids came from a consortium led by the Danish wind giant Orsted, and Deepwater Wind, which is based in Providence, R.I., and mainly owned by D.E. Shaw, an investment firm.

“We know in light of Northern Europe’s experience with offshore wind that many U.S. ports will benefit from the arrival of the industry here,” Jon Mitchell, the New Bedford mayor, said in an interview.

New Bedford has benefited from a lucrative sector before. In the mid-19th century, its whaling industry made it one of the wealthiest cities in the United States. “Nowhere in all America will you find more patrician-like houses; parks and gardens more opulent, than in New Bedford,” Herman Melville wrote in his epic novel, “Moby-Dick.”

In the hopes of another such boost, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, the state agency, has already spent $113 million dredging the harbor and expanding and reinforcing a 29-acre marine commerce terminal. The state is preparing it to load the components of turbines that stretch up to 600 feet high and weigh many tons onto special vessels for installation at sea.

Whether Massachusetts can pull of its ambitious plans will depend to some degree on local issues — and not everyone in the area is enthusiastic.

In particular, some of New Bedford’s fishermen are worried. The city’s port is already home to hundreds of fishing boats, as well as seafood auction houses and processing plants. It generates about $3.3 billion a year and supports about 6,200 jobs, according to the local authorities.

“You don’t want to destroy one type of sustainable energy harvest with another one,” said Kevin Stokesbury, a professor at the School for Marine Science and Technology at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.

Eric Hansen, a scallop fisherman, said that he and his colleagues were concerned about threading their way through a relatively narrow allotted path through spinning turbines.

“Think fog, heavy seas,” he said.

Even so, wind power is gaining its adherents.

Opposition to offshore wind in the state appears to have quieted since the death of Mr. Kennedy in 2009. The senator and his family successfully resisted a project off Cape Cod that would have been the first offshore wind farm in the United States, a project proposed in 2001.

The area’s high electricity prices may prove, counterintuitively, to be a plus. Power prices in Massachusetts are the second highest in the nation, behind only Hawaii’s, and high rates prevail in much of the rest of New England and in New York. As a result, customers might be more willing to pay the increased early prices for power generated by offshore wind.

The economic boost, too, is appealing, especially in a once-affluent city of 100,000 people.

Kevin McLaughlin employs more than 100 people in his shipyards across the harbor at Fairhaven, and has already won additional work from offshore operators.

“As long as there are boats that will be here,” he said, “it is business for us.”

Follow Stanley Reed and Ivan Penn on Twitter: @stanleyreed12 and @ivanlpenn.

Stanley Reed reported from New Bedford, and Ivan Penn from Los Angeles.

Original Article here.

 

‘Taking it in’: Vineyard Wind wins offshore wind contract with Massachusetts

Vineyard Wind has been selected for Massachusetts’ first offshore wind contract, and Deepwater Wind will receive a contract from Rhode Island based on its Massachusetts bid, state officials announced Wednesday.

Together, their projects total 1,200 megawatts and establish a new industry in the region.

Vineyard Wind was awarded an 800-megawatt wind farm — up to 100 turbines — in federal waters about 14 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard. Deepwater’s project, called Revolution Wind, will be half the size, located south of Little Compton, Rhode Island, and Westport, Massachusetts.

“I’m still at the point of … taking it in,” said Erich Stephens, chief development officer for Vineyard Wind, minutes after the public announcement just after 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The two companies were competing with a third bidder, Bay State Wind, in a Massachusetts procurement process, mandated by state law, to provide power to the state’s electric companies. The electric companies selected the winners in concert with the state.

Massachusetts’ choice to award 800 megawatts to a single bidder, rather than split the work into two, came as a surprise to many and somewhat of a disappointment to New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell.

“Overall, I’m pleased we’ve arrived at this day,” he said in an interview. He said the day marks an important milestone, but he would have liked to see two projects receive Massachusetts contracts in the first round.

“There would be a greater level of competition for investment commitments in the port,” he said. In addition, having two projects underway at once would be a hedge against one project’s delay holding up in the industry, he said.

Mitchell did not endorse a project. The city will work with any of the developers, he said.

Both of the companies that were not selected in Massachusetts had made specific financial commitments to local colleges, contingent upon winning a contract. Bay State Wind pledged $1 million to Bristol Community College to endow a faculty position in wind energy. Deepwater Wind committed $1 million for a research project called the Blue Economy Initiative at the University of Massachusetts, to be led by the UMass Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology, which is in New Bedford.

Each of the three companies presented a package of enticements, some rolled out over time. For example, Bay State Wind offered $17.5 million for energy assistance and weatherization for low-income families.

Vineyard Wind’s enticements totaled $15 million: $10 million for a fund to develop the wind business supply chain in Massachusetts; $3 million to develop technologies to protect marine mammals from the effects of offshore wind construction; and $2 million to recruit, mentor and train in-state workers.

The mayor said the Massachusetts decision shows Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration chose mainly on price. Details of the pricing have not been made public. However, officials in the Baker administration did agree Wednesday that pricing was the most significant element, but not the only one.

Officials from the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Department of Energy Resources, who asked not to be named because the administration issued its official comments in writing, said a rigorous analysis of the bids gave Vineyard Wind the overall highest score in both qualitative and quantitative benefits — that is, price and other advantages.

Non-price factors included the effect on the economy and environment, the experience of the backers, and the construction schedule, they said. In addition, Vineyard Wind’s early timeline allows it to take advantage of a tax credit that would not be as generous later, they said.

The officials said they plan to work on new initiatives to address the concerns of fishermen, who have said the turbines could negatively affect the natural habitat.

Significant work lies ahead to reconcile differences with the fishing industry, Mayor Mitchell said.

Tony Sapienza, president of the New Bedford Economic Development Council, said he was excited for the winners and “a little bit surprised” that Massachusetts didn’t go with two bidders. But he believes all three companies will be generating electricity in the region before the state finishes procuring the full 1,600 megawatts required by law.

“I think that’s a given,” he said.

All three bidders have room in their federal lease areas for more turbines in the future.

Derek Santos, the council’s executive director, said the city could still stage the installation of both projects from the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal. All three companies committed to use the terminal for Massachusetts projects, but no such commitment applies to Rhode Island.

Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski said “the overwhelming majority” of his project’s work will take place in Rhode Island.

Although New Bedford is not completely out of the picture, “clearly our principal commitment is to Rhode Island,” he said.

Still, Santos considers the award a positive development, and the council will continue to work to maximize the benefits to the port, he said.

Baker said in a news release that the announcement makes the state a hub for an emerging industry and brings it one step closer to “creating a clean, reliable and cost-effective energy future for Massachusetts residents, and significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change.”

In the Vineyard Wind office on Wednesday, employees fielded phone calls and planned to make a dinner reservation to celebrate, Stephens said.

“New Bedford’s going to be a busy place real soon,” he said.

For him as for others, getting a full 800 megawatts, instead of sharing the award, came as a surprise.

“I was hopeful we might get something,” he said.

Stephens said the company is excited to continue pursuing permits, surveying the ocean floor, and talking to potential suppliers. Construction could begin by the end of 2019.

Vineyard Wind is owned jointly by the Danish investment company Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Avangrid Renewables, a division of Connecticut-based energy company Avangrid, which is owned by Iberdrola of Spain.

Bay State Wind, which did not win a contract, issued a statement attributed to two people from its parent companies: Thomas Brostrøm, president of Ørsted North America, and Lee Olivier, an executive vice president at Eversource.

“We’re disappointed by today’s decision by the Massachusetts evaluation team,” they said in the statement. “We made a compelling offer to help the commonwealth meet its ambitious clean energy goals while maintaining strong financial discipline. Further, our proposal to interconnect our project into the former Brayton Point facility in Somerset, Massachusetts, would ensure clean energy delivery into one of the strongest connections on New England’s electrical grid.”

“We remain fully committed to our Bay State Wind partnership, as together we pursue future solicitations in New England and New York,” they said.

The award to Vineyard Wind is conditional upon the successful negotiation of a contract, and the deal must be approved by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities. The schedule calls for contracts to be negotiated by July 2 and submitted for approval by July 31.

A 2016 state law requires electric companies doing business in Massachusetts — Eversource, National Grid, and Unitil — to buy 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind power in the next decade, enough to power hundreds of thousands of homes.

Bay State Wind signs agreements to build training center in New Bedford


Bay State Wind has signed agreements to develop a training center for future offshore wind workers in the city, the company announced Monday.

Bay State Wind is a partnership between Ørsted and Eversource for an offshore wind project 25 miles off Massachusetts and 15 miles off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. Bay State Wind is one of three projects, along with Deepwater Wind and Vineyard Wind, competing in a state-led bidding process in which Massachusetts power companies will buy electricity from offshore wind. A 2016 state law requires power companies to buy long-term contracts for at least 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind power in the next decade.

Bay State Wind has signed agreements with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Utility Workers Union of America and its Power for America initiative, and the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers, along with Bristol Community College and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, according to a news release.

“We are very happy to be working with Bay State Wind, which is the only offshore wind developer that is committing to become a true Massachusetts company, by training and hiring local union labor,” said Mike Monahan, international vice president, second district, of the IBEW, in a statement.

The company said it expects to hire up to 1,000 workers during the construction phase and create 100 permanent jobs over the 25-year life of the turbines, with an operations and maintenance facility that also will be located in New Bedford.

If chosen by the state for the contract, Bay State Wind also has pledged $1 million to BCC, which will “endow a faculty position to help BCC, which would offer the only degree completion program in offshore wind … Bay State Wind will collaborate with BCC faculty and staff to train other teachers, to create an ambitious internship program and to build a new, national model for preparing the workforce for this growing industry and its supply chain,” BCC President Laura Douglas said in March.

“New Bedford has sent its people to sea for nearly 300 years, and in the process, became a global leader, first in whaling and then in commercial fishing,” said Mayor Jon Mitchell in a statement. “We see the establishment of an offshore wind training center here as an important step in staking our claim in the emerging offshore wind industry. We appreciate Bay State Wind’s commitment to preparing the industry’s workforce, and we look forward to working with our partners in higher education and organized labor to make the proposed center a reality.”

Bay State Wind already has signed an agreement with NEC Energy Solutions, headquartered in Westboro, to build a factory to manufacture storage batteries, according to the release. Last month, Bay State Wind reached an agreement with EEW, the international market leader in steel pipe manufacturing, to open and staff a plant to manufacture offshore wind components, in collaboration with Gulf Island Fabrication. EEW is considering a variety of sites, including locations on SouthCoast.

Original story here.

BCC, CATCH Institute partner on offshore wind training program

Posted Feb 27, 2018 at 12:06 PM

While participating in the US-UK Offshore Wind Ports and Supply Chain Delegation in London and Hull, England, Bristol Community College President Laura L. Douglas visited the Center for Assessment of Technical Competency in the Humber (CATCH) Institute, to sign a memorandum of understanding between BCC and the CATCH Institute.

The CATCH Institute, in Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire, England, is an industry-led partnership supporting the process, energy, engineering, and renewable industries in the Humber (Northern England) region. CATCH operates a world-renowned CATCH training facility that provides skills, training, and competency solutions for industries across the UK and internationally.

CATCH will provide BCC with technical assistance, including a “train the trainer” program, a student knowledge transfer, overseas training program, and will support BCC’s vision of building a national offshore wind training center in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

The partnership creates a framework for collaboration in the field of offshore wind to support educational training and skills development activities for the benefit of the UK and USA, with the ultimate goal of creating a strong, vibrant, and sustainable industry.

BCC is currently offering an engineering technology/offshore wind power technology concentration of its Associate in Science in Engineering Technology (Offshore Wind Power Technology), as well as a Certificate of Recognition in offshore wind power technician. Both programs prepare students to work as technicians for the offshore wind power industry.

Students learn aspects of engineering technology such as electrical machinery, fluid systems, materials science, and strength of materials, and gain hands-on experience with assembly, installation, operation and maintenance of wind power systems.

Original story here.

Bay State Wind pledges $1 million to BCC if it wins contract

Posted Dec 20, 2017 at 7:38 PM

Bay State Wind has committed $1 million to Bristol Community College for wind-energy training in New Bedford, contingent upon Bay State Wind winning a contract for an offshore wind farm.

The money would support a faculty member in wind energy, BCC’s first-ever endowed faculty position in any field, BCC President Laura Douglas said at press conference Wednesday at the New Bedford campus. The position would be funded in 2019.

Douglas welcomed what she called “the start of a long relationship between BCC and Bay State Wind,” saying the company would host student interns, provide a guest lecturer, explore collaborating with BCC and others to develop an offshore wind training center in New Bedford, and participate in other BCC initiatives.

Mike Durand, a spokesman for Eversource, one of the backers of Bay State Wind, delivered remarks on behalf of the developers.

“I can’t think of a more deserving recipient of our support than this institution,” said Durand, who is a BCC graduate.

Bay State Wind, one of three bidders for an offshore wind farm as part of a state-led procurement process, is a joint venture of Eversource and Danish energy company Ørsted.

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell said New Bedford is working to maximize the advantage from its “first-mover status” in the offshore wind industry.

Original story here.

Polito hopes dredging can begin “in the near future”

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito left SouthCoast last week with the notion that the region has the ability to become a juggernaut within the “blue economy.”

The city’s port recently ranked as the most valuable in the country for the 17th consecutive year.

But there’s more room to grow.

“Dredging really activates the rest of the waterfront,” Executive Director of the Harbor Development Council Ed Anthes-Washburn said. “And it maintains what we have. If we’re not able to dredge, then the port shuts down because you can’t get a boat to the dock.”

Polito finished her visit to New Bedford with a ribbon-cutting ceremony for State Pier’s new refrigeration installation. It also allowed for time to discuss the port’s need for dredging.

“We’re working with the city officials here in New Bedford to determine the phases that will be needed in order to properly dredge this port,” Polito said.

Three years ago the state set aside $35 million to continue with Phase V dredging of the port. Three years later, the need remains.

“There are dredging dollars designated now through our MassWorks program,” Polito said. “And from that analysis and continued discussions with the city, we will get to a place where we can begin some work in the near future.”

The federal channel, which is maintained by the Army Corp of Engineers, hasn’t been dredged since the 1950s. The rest of the port was last dredged in 2014. The $7 million project increased the depth 4 feet to 28.5 feet. However, to be authorized by the federal government, the average depth during low tides is required to be 30 feet.

The $35 million set-aside is the estimated cost for dredging the federal channel and complete Phase V dredging in the harbor. Completing the projects together is more cost effective than handling each separately.

In past dredging projects, the state has covered 80 percent of the cost and private corporations made up for the remainder.

“I look forward to the next round of discussions with the Baker-Polito administration about how state funding for berth dredging will unlock private investment and job opportunities in the Port of New Bedford,” Mayor Jon Mitchell said. “With clear channels to key waterfront sites, the port would be able to compete more effectively in the fishing, cargo and offshore wind industries for years to come.”

In September, the City Council unanimously passed a written motion pressing the state’s legislative delegation, U.S. Rep William Keating and Gov. Charlie Baker to appropriate the funding so that dredging could begin.

Phase V dredging involves about 25 docking areas. Some are in use and some aren’t. When dredged, the available water space would lead to nearly 400 direct jobs in the harbor and nearly 900 total, according to analysis conducted by Martin Associates.

The same study showed the dredging would lead to more than $250 million in business revenue and $11.5 million in state and local taxes.

“There’s companies that needed it yesterday. So certainly the need is there,” Anthes-Washburn said. “I think there’s a lot of pent up demand. We’re just trying to make that story clear. Moving forward, we want to work with the administration to get the project moving as quick as possible.”

Follow Michael Bonner on Twitter @MikeBBonnerSCT.

Original Story Here

Karyn Polito: State, SouthCoast working to ‘unleash’ region’s potential

Bay State Wind opens downtown New Bedford office in wind power bid