SBA Micro-loans

no problemoNBEDC’s Micro-loan program

  • $1,000-$9,500 for equipment, technology upgrades or working capital
  • Simple one-page application
  • In-house approval process
  • Designed to help NB’s small businesses develop and expand

Call or email Angela Johnston, Director of Business Development, at ajohnston@nbedc.org or on cell 508-264-0456.

For more information online, please visit http://www.nbedc.org/loan-programs/

Can New Bedford lure a turbine plant

newsletter-112-1For New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell, offshore wind is “not just an industry with abstract benefits.’’ It’s a jobs creator.

The industry could support up to 70,000 full-time equivalent jobs in the North Atlantic region by 2030, with up to $14 billion-a-year’s worth of construction, operations, and maintenance, according to analysis released last month by the Department of Energy.

“These results are strongly based on the local sourcing assumptions. If more components and services were sourced locally, the numbers could increase by three to fourfold,” the analysis said.

For oft-beleaguered New Bedford, whose 13.1 percent unemployment rate is the second highest in the state, the results could also be profoundly affected by another thing: if the offshore wind industry could seduce a global turbine maker to locate its first US plant in New Bedford.

The conditions are taking shape. The Patrick administration is constructing here what would be the nation’s first port terminal built to support the delivery and installation of the gargantuan turbines. Meanwhile, Cape Wind is hurdling over its final legal obstacles for 130 turbines in Nantucket Sound. And Deepwater Wind hopes to plunge 200 turbines into waters between Martha’s Vineyard and Rhode Island, though likely in 40- to 50-turbine increments.

If Cape Wind and Deepwater Wind get their “steel in the water,” as industry lingo goes, it would be historic. But a much bigger pipeline of turbines is necessary for a full-throttle industry to unfold in the state.

“You’d probably need hundreds, maybe 300, maybe 400, but you definitely need hundreds,” said Jason Folsom, the commercial head of offshore wind in the Americas for Siemens.

With Siemens being the biggest offshore wind turbine manufacturer in Europe and the future supplier of Cape Wind’s machines, he knows as much as anyone what the industry can look like. By the end of 2012, Siemens had installed nearly 1,000 turbines in European waters. It has contracts for roughly 1,250 more.

Folsom said Siemens’s worldwide operations in wind total 10,000 employees. In offshore, Folsom said it has 2,000 engineers, project managers, and sales staff in offices around the world. To show how explosive the industry is, Folsom said that, when he joined Siemens in 2008, there were only 50 offshore staff worldwide.

A coming explosion could play into New Bedford’s hands. Technology is producing bigger and more powerful machines than are currently being installed. That also means longer blades, which are crossing the 200-foot barrier. “The future of offshore is going to get harder as machines get bigger and heavier, and are put farther out to sea,” Folsom said. “It makes the timing of having components arrive at the right time even more crucial.

“At some point, to take advantage of the next generation of machines, it may be advantageous to have a plant in the US. But there has to be consistent policy that creates a consistent pipeline.”

No consistency is coming out of Washington, as fossil fuel politicians continue to fight investment and production tax credits for renewable energy. In a sane Washington, the economic argument should end the debate. By itself, the offshore port terminal will likely boost the local economy with activity associated with turbines, such as welding, cable laying and maintenance. But a plant that actually makes turbines here could lure even more firms and create a supply chain.

Onshore wind in the Midwest has taken off on such a scale that Siemens has several hundred people in turbine plants in Fort Madison, Iowa, and Hutchinson, Kan. Despite layoff cycles amidst the uncertainty of federal policy, production is strong enough that those plants today make blades for export to Canada and South America.

“The US can catch up if it wants,” Folsom said about offshore wind. “But there comes a point where you are a participant only or a participant and producer.” New Bedford’s hopes with a port terminal are already bright. The future would be brighter if the offshore machines were made here.

Derrick Z. Jackson
jackson@globe.com
Boston Globe, Columnist
NOVEMBER 09, 2013

http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2013/11/09/new-bedford-offshore-future-could-bright/UUJmDBPhynyPoMIaoMjJsK/story.html

Political stability key to offshore wind, panelists say

newsletter-112-2NEW BEDFORD — Leaders in the American and German offshore wind industries emphasized the importance of a secure political climate in making New Bedford’s offshore wind aspirations a reality during a panel discussion at the Whaling Museum on Tuesday morning.

Multiple representatives of the German Port of Bremerhaven told an audience of about 80 that support of offshore wind in all political parties was crucial to the country’s development of the industry.

“Offshore wind starts with believers,” explained Andreas Welbrock, who sits on the board of BLG, Bremerhaven’s port operation company.

Jens Eckhoff, president of the German Offshore Foundation, said that in Germany “we never had any political fight over this topic.”

“That’s the main reason we were successful,” he said.

Eckhoff said he is a member of the conservative political party in Germany, but that his party did not resist the installation of offshore wind because of its potential for job creation.

Financing offshore wind development requires a large up-front investment because of the difficulties of deploying hundreds of turbines at once. Construction of an offshore wind farm can take up to eight years, so investors have to wait a considerable period of time to see a return.

Eckhoff said the bipartisan support for offshore wind was crucial to the success of the industry because the German government was able to create policy that provides incentives for businesses to invest in offshore wind.

“Investors want a guarantee that the political climate will not change between when they invest and when they get a return,” he said.

In the United States, it’s not so simple.

Here, a federal investment tax credit for renewable energy is set to expire at the end of 2013. With that program, investors can receive a cash grant covering up to 30 percent of their investment.

Still, that concept has been controversial among Republicans, who say it gives renewable energy unfair advantages on what is supposed to be a free market.

Last year, when Congress was nearing the fiscal cliff, one of the obstacles to raising the debt ceiling was that Republicans were resistant to extending the investment tax credit.

Cape Wind Spokesman Mark Rodgers put it another way, asking, “Do you have the Tea Party in Germany?”

“In the current United States political context, that’s been the most vocally anti-renewable energy block, and it’s been a big challenge and remains a big challenge,” he said.

To avoid an annual battle over the tax credit, U.S. Rep. William Keating, D-Mass., is proposing that the next investment tax credit extension expire not on a particular date, but once there are 3,000 megawatts of offshore wind energy in the United States. (For reference, CapeWind is a 455 megawatt project).

“We need to make sure our investors know that their return is going to be there,” Keating said.

Bill White, senior director of offshore wind development at the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, called Keating’s proposed change to the tax credit “crucial for this industry to move forward.”

Rodgers of CapeWind agreed.

“An arbitrary expiration date makes it more difficult to obtain our financing objectives,” he said. “Shifting that to a 3,000 megawatt benchmark, that’s a number that would really launch an industry in the United States.”

Source: The Standard Times

By Ariel Wittenberg
awittenberg@s-t.com

November 06, 2013 12:30 AM

http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20131106/NEWS/311060343

For Morrissey at offshore conference, networking a priority

newsletter-112-3PROVIDENCE — British offshore wind consultant Bruce Valpy had been to the SouthCoast booth at the American Wind Energy Association’s Offshore Wind Conference twice already looking for a man he called “Matt Moore.”

On his third try Wednesday morning he found Mayor Jon Mitchell, who figured out that “Matt Moore” was actually Wind Energy Center Director Matthew Morrissey, standing nearby.

“I hear you’re the guy to talk to about New Bedford,” Valpy said to Morrissey, and the two set up a time to meet for coffee later in the day.

Later, Valpy told The Standard-Times his interest in New Bedford stemmed from “considerable” buzz about the city and its efforts to prepare for offshore wind.

“I’ve been hearing that if anywhere is likely to grow up as a center for offshore wind farms, it is New Bedford,” he said. “In the European market, the guys that put themselves out there in the beginning are were ones who won, which is what I hear New Bedford is doing.”

That’s exactly what Morrissey is going for.

In New Bedford, Morrissey’s pitch about offshore wind centers is on convincing residents that the industry is actually coming and explaining to them how to prepare for employment opportunities once it does.

At the offshore wind conference, he pitches that New Bedford has earned whatever business and economic development might result from the industry coming to America; it’s the city’s birthright.

At a 7 a.m. breakfast hosted by the New Bedford Economic Development Council and attended by 30 developers and manufacturers, Mitchell outlined the city’s whaling history and preeminence as a fishing port. The bottom line was that “Our people know what they are doing out at sea.”

It was similar to a presentation Morrissey gave the day before at a panel about port logistics. Other panelists in that session outlined their port’s logistic advantages; how heavy a load they could carry, how accessible the port facility was from land and by sea.

Morrissey did that, too, but he focused on New Bedford’s “story of a port city lifting itself up by its boot straps” with “a history of people working on the water and near the water.”

Morrissey’s efforts at the conference are a natural extension of the work he does for the EDC. Just this week a delegation from Germany took a tour of the city to inspect South Terminal’s progress. Another is expected in early November.

The result is people such as Valpy searching the conference for Morrissey, who could barely finish a conversation before someone else approached him with his or her card. They came from South Carolina, England, Germany and Denmark, among other places. Instead of merely exchanging information, Morrissey took it one step further.

“What are you doing in 30 minutes?” he asked, and arranged to meet them for coffee, or, in one case, at a whiskey tasting happening in the exhibition hall.

“Every person we come in contact with, we want to leave as a friend of New Bedford,” Morrissey said. “Every industry in the city can use a friend, and that’s never more true than offshore wind because it’s still developing.”

The networking does come at a price. As one of eight sponsors of the conference, the Economic Development Council had to pay $5,000 in corporate-raised funds. The SouthCoast booth at the conference was funded with an additional $330 from the SouthCoast Development Partnership.

But on Wednesday, Morrissey said it was worth it for name recognition alone.

The South Terminal was mentioned in sessions where no city representative was on the panel. And at the New Bedford booth, Lauren Costello of the EDC noted that those who approached already knew about the city’s efforts.

“We’re part of the conversation already,” she said.

That’s what Morrissey was going for. Introducing himself at the New Bedford breakfast Wednesday morning, he made his mission clear: “If I don’t know you, I’m looking forward to getting to know you,” he said.

Source: The Standard Times

By Ariel Wittenberg
awittenberg@s-t.com
October 23, 2013 3:48 PM

http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20131023/NEWS/131029960

Business park extension could add 500-plus jobs

newsletter-112-4NEW BEDFORD — City, state and federal officials celebrated the extension of the New Bedford Business Park into a 45-acre area – a $2 million, 800-foot roadway project that could bring hundreds of high-tech jobs to the park.

“We feel like we’re sort of at the end of a road to nowhere here,” said Mayor Jon Mitchell Wednesday, “but this is quite the opposite.”

“We’re here today to celebrate economic opportunity — the potential for many more jobs to be added to our park.”

The park is now home to 44 companies and 4,500 jobs, including annual sales revenue of $2 billion and combined payroll of $250 million, according to park estimates.

Tom Davis, executive director of the Greater New Bedford Industrial Foundation, said the space is surrounded by the 2,000-acre Acushnet Cedar Swamp State Reservation. It will ideally be used by a single company — with a three to eight-story building — as 500-plus jobs could be added.

“It’s our largest single contiguous lot in the park,” Davis said, “and I think it’s a beautiful campus-like setting that we plan to market to computer software companies, biotech, or medical device companies.”

“I want to make a special proactive effort for computer software companies — we don’t have any in the park.”

Companies located in the park include New Bedford household names Titleist, Aerovox and Poyant Signs, as well as the Hong Kong-based Gold Peak Industries, which leased a 65,000-square-foot facility to manufacture electric motor scooters.

Crossings for the area’s native box turtles were included in the road work, in addition to barriers to prevent the turtles from going onto the road and special stop signs cluing drivers to their presence.

Named after the late Bill Flaherty, a former chairman of the Industrial Foundation, the road was funded half by the U.S. Economic Development Administration and half by the state Transportation Department through a federal earmark.

Willie Taylor, regional director of the U.S. Economic Development Administration, said the project is expected to spur some $20 million in private investment.

“The infrastructure improvements at the business park provide the local, regional, state and state economic development practitioners with another tool to utilize and help us to retain and recruit business and industry here to New Bedford,” he said.

Already the second biggest business park in the state, Davis estimates that the park can grow to host 8,000 jobs with future development. He said some companies located along Route 128 in the Greater Boston Area are considering moving because of costs and congestion — New Bedford offers lower costs but also a local workforce with a strong work ethic.

Manufacturing wages are 33 percent lower in New Bedford than in Greater Boston parks, the park boasts, while white collar salaries are 25 to 40 percent lower.

Source: The Standard Times

By SIMÓN RIOS
srios@s-t.com
November 13, 2013 1:15 PM

http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20131113/NEWS/311130373

St. Anne’s breaks ground on urgent care center in New Bedford

newsletter-112-5NEW BEDFORD — The to-be-constructed Saint Anne’s Hospital urgent care facility at Riverside Landing is a sign of changes stemming from health care reform, said John Jurczyk, chief operating officer at St. Anne’s.

“We’re seeing with reform that care is shifting more and more out of the organized medical setting into these little centers, to the home, to the physician’s office,” Jurczyk said. “So we’re in keeping with the times.”

Jurczyk spoke with reporters after a groundbreaking at the Coggeshall Street site, where Saint Anne’s plans to open a 10,000-square-foot urgent care facility next fall.

The facility is 3.5 miles away from a Southcoast Health System urgent care center in Fairhaven, which opened in August. Jurczyk said the addition isn’t about competition.

The Saint Anne’s center is a collaboration between the hospital and Hawthorn Medical Associates, both of which are under the Steward Health Care System network. It will offer walk-in outpatient care for non-life-threatening conditions when a patient’s primary care physician is not available or when emergency room care is not needed, according to Saint Anne’s.

Located in between McDonald’s and Taco Bell, with Market Basket nearby, it is slated to be open seven days a week from noon to midnight.

Saint Anne’s president Craig A. Jesiolowski said the facility will have 12 private rooms and an on-site diagnostic laboratory including X-ray, ultrasound, CAT scan and EKG services.

“Providing the right care at the right time in the right location is not only good health care, it is an essential element in our push to improve the quality of medical care while creating greater access at a lower cost,” Jesiolowski said.

Before donning a hard hat and sinking a shovel into a heap of dirt, Mayor Jon Mitchell said the city is pleased at the addition of jobs and health care services to the area.

“This site has come alive,” the mayor said of the Riverside Landing development. “We are increasing our tax base … we will turn a blighted property, a blighted area, into something that is brighter and more welcoming.”

Mitchell said the job generation happens as a result of good planning and constructive relationships with developers.

“That highway is an asset to this property, that river is an asset to this property, that neighborhood is an asset to this property — it has to be all woven together.”

Sister Vimala Vadakumpadan, chairwoman of the board of Saint Anne’s Hospital, gave a prayer at the start of the event.

“May the jobs created by this project sustain families who call this city their home,” she said.

The facility is being funded by a $3.3 million loan by Rockland Trust, as part of the New Markets Tax Credits program, according to Saint Anne’s.

Source: The Standard Times

By SIMÓN RIOS
srios@s-t.com
November 09, 2013 12:00 AM

http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20131109/NEWS/311090321

Charles W. Morgan: Sailing back to New Bedford

newsletter-112-6Our good friend Matthew Stackpole is here in the audience today. He’s a historian and sailor and a lover of ships, and it’s true to say that of the people who made this day possible and without whom we wouldn’t be here, Matthew is second to none. His passion, his knowledge, his commitment have made this day possible as much as anyone. His love for ships and whaleships and history is legendary, runs from Nantucket and Mystic, where he grew up, to Martha’s Vineyard, where he built ships and ran the historical society, and back again.

I know this ship means everything to Matthew. The Charles W. Morgan is an emissary and ambassador from a crucial moment in American history — and restoring her, Matthew recently wrote movingly, was like entering a time machine that magically transported the team back 1841.

As she sits here in Mystic, powerful cords of history link this glorious 107-foot-long, 351-ton wonder — built not for beauty and speed but for stamina, and staying power and perseverance — to whaling’s origins and to its great capitals — and of course from there all across the globe. All whaling in a sense went into making her what and who she is, and all America — and she is linked in time and space and by pedigree to the entire panorama of American whaling. Her builder and first owner, Charles Morgan himself, started out in New Bedford in the counting house of the Rotch family — the greatest dynasty whaling ever saw — a family originally from Nantucket, who went on to pioneer and build New Bedford in the early years of the 19th century.

She was launched 75 miles east northeast of here at New Bedford, in the summer of 1841. On July 21st of that year, Charles W. Morgan made a fateful entry into his diary. Though he wasn’t quite sure that this brand-new addition to his fleet of whaleships should be named after him, he was unambiguously ecstatic about the birth of the Morgan.

“A fine warm day,” he wrote, ” — but very dry. This morning at 10 o’clock my elegant new ship was launched beautifully from Messrs. Hillman’s yard — and in the presence of both half the town and a great show of ladies. She looks beautifully on the water, she was copper-bottomed on the stocks. She is to be commanded by Captain Thomas Norton.”

She set sail on her first whaling voyage six weeks later on September 6, 1841, bound for the Pacific.

Her second mate, James Osborn, recorded in his journal: “May kind Neptune protect us with plesant gales and may we be successful in catching sperm whales.” Kind Neptune complied. She returned three years, three months and 27 days later with a cargo of 1,600 barrels of sperm oil, 800 barrels of whale oil, and 10,000 pounds of bone. She had cost $27,000 to build and $26,000 to outfit, and she almost always returned a handsome profit. Over the next eighty years, traveling to every ocean of the world, she would make 37 voyages in all — one of the 2,700 whaleships that made the worldwide whaling fleet over time, which embarked on a combined 14,864 voyages. Her longest voyage was almost five years; her average voyage was 2.

The whole world in all its diversity was part of her experience, and her timbers are imbued with that reality to this day. During that time, she traveled to every part of the globe — part of the whaling advance guard of American globalization, and a laboratory of the multi-cultural society we were on the verge of becoming. According to a New Bedford physician who vaccinated her crew in 1906 — as recounted by Matthew Stackpole’s father Edouard Stackpole, one of the grandfathers of American whaling history, the Morgan’s crew that year alone included — and I quote — “Americans, Chileans, Hawaiians, Germans, Australians, British, kanakas, Swedes, West Indians and two Chimoeans from the Island of Guam.”

During the eighty years the Charles W. Morgan sailed, from 1841 to 1921, America became America. She was launched on the very eve of our immense expansion West — an expansion that hadn’t even begun in earnest by 1841, but that would make the country what it is. During those eighty years as she went around the world, America fulfilled what the newspaper editor John O’Sullivan called her “manifest destiny” — which was he said in 1845 to spread with extraordinary speed across the magnificent continent providence had allotted her for her yearly multiplying millions.

In the next 10 years alone, millions of square miles would be added to the American nation — an expansion that would trigger a lethal civil war over the meaning of freedom on the American continent.

In the decades following the Civil War scores of millions of new peoples would pour into the explosively growing country in one of the biggest demographic expansions and most spectacular movements of human beings in history — a huge combined geographical and demographic expansion.

By 1921, the year she retired, the adolescent nation of country people that was spreading its wings and flexing its muscles the year she was launched had become a world power and a main player on the world stage.

She was retired in 1921 — three years before the wreck of the Wanderer off Cuttyhunk left her an orphan and the last wooden whaleship in the world. Her career it turned out had been almost exactly co-terminous with the beginning of the peak years of American whaling — and the commencement of whaling’s decline.

Source: The Standard Times

By Ric Burns
Ric Burns is a documentary filmmaker.
November 12, 2013 8:55 AM

http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20131112/OPINION/311120327

New Bedford is still inspired by the sea

newsletter-112-7Required to read “Moby-Dick’’ over a school holiday break, a memory that still haunts us, we weren’t keen to visit New Bedford. Herman Melville, of course, shipped out from here in 1841, and his experience inspired the classic. Seafaring life is still a major part of New Bedford’s identity, but this Southeastern Massachusetts city, with the strong influence of its Portuguese and Cape Verdean communities, has other tales to tell. It was an important stop on the Underground Railroad and home to abolitionist Frederick Douglass for five years. Artists such as Albert Bierstadt and William Bradford helped forge its commitment to the visual arts. New Bedford has a texture and vibrancy that might surprise. Young families are especially smitten, thanks to attractions like the Ocean Explorium and Buttonwood Zoo.

STAY

If you’re traveling with a small fry, the Marriott Fairfield Inn & Suites (185 MacArthur Blvd., 774-634-2000;www.marriott.com; rates from $109) is a good bet, thanks to the free hot breakfast, indoor pool, and the cookies they put out in the afternoon. The newish (2010) hotel sits close to the waterfront, with nice views. The Marriott is on the city shuttle route (you can ride all day for $1), but you can walk to most attractions. New Bedford also has a clutch of bed-and-breakfast places. The five-room Orchard Street Manor (139 Orchard St., 508-984-3475; www.the-orchard-street-manor.com; from $125) wins rave reviews, thanks to personable innkeepers Al and Suzanne Saulniers. This circa 1845 sea captain’s home is filled with treasures gleaned from the innkeepers’ overseas travels. Davenport House B&B (124 Cottage St., 508-999-1177; www.bbonline.com; rooms from $75) is another favorite; you can walk to downtown and the historic sites from this handsome 1912 three-bedroom Victorian inn.

DINE

If you’re looking to sample authentic Portuguese cuisine, you’ve come to the right place. Just ask Bon Appetit and Martha Stewart — both gave major props to family-owned Antonio’s (267 Coggeshall St., 508-990-3636;www.antoniosnewbedford.com; entrees from $9.99, no credit cards). This local favorite isn’t fancy, but it’s always packed, thanks to excellent Portuguese and American food, served in huge portions. Bill of fare includes seafood, stews, and meat dishes, but be sure to check out the specials boards where some interesting options (rabbit, sardines) line up. For a romantic dinner, try Cotali Mar (1178 Acushnet Ave., 508-990-0066; www.cotalimarrestaurante.com; entrees from $13.95). The menu of this upscale (white tablecloths, marble floors) establishment leans toward Portuguese dishes, but its signature entrée is steak on a slab: a cut of sirloin cooked and served on a slab of granite ($27). Urban Grille (774 Purchase St., 508-990-9900; www.urbangrillenb.com; entrees from $15) would probably survive if it served just one dish, its wildly popular arancini di risa (panko-crusted, deep-fried risotto balls with cheese sauce). This lively spot is BYOB, and there’s a wine shop nearby. Other worthy choices include pan-seared sea scallops, truffle mashed potatoes, mussels fra diavolo, and flourless chocolate cake. If you’re looking for a great lunch spot near the whaling museum, try Freestones City Grill (41 William St., 508-993-7477; www.freestonescitygrill.com; from $7.99). A barbecue chicken pizza ($9.99; comes with a small Caesar salad) and a salted caramel martini is a perfect pairing on a drizzly November day.

During the Day

One of the Bair kids, Charlotte, was so enamored of the climb-aboard whale ship Lagoda at the New Bedford Whaling Museum (18 Johnny Cake Hill, 508-997-0046; www.whalingmuseum.org; $14) that we had to tempt her with a plush whale from the gift shop to get her to disembark. This wonderful museum houses the world’s largest collection of whaling artifacts, including the 89-foot, half-model bark that Charlotte loved, plus rare whale skeletons that hang from the ceilings, figureheads, scrimshaw, sailor’s valentines, and whaling gear. The museum, and the Seamen’s Bethel (whaling chapel) across the street are part of the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park (33 William St., 508-996-4095;www.nps.gov/nebe), a 13-block area of downtown adjacent to the waterfront. The park presents and interprets the city’s role as “Whaling Capital of the World” in the 19th century. On the artsy side of things, there are 10 galleries located near the national park, including Gallery 65 on William (65 William St., 508-994-1595; www.gallery65onwilliam.com), a cooperative of artists from the region. And be sure to pop into the University Art Gallery (715 Purchase St., 508-999-8555;www.umassd.edu/cvpa/galleries), located on the first floor of UMass Dartmouth College of Visual and Performing Arts. Among local gift shops, the family-owned Bedford Merchant (28 William St., 508-997-9194; www.bedfordmerchant.com) combines style with whimsy. Bring the kiddies to Buttonwood Park Zoo (425 Hawthorn St., 508-991-6178; www.bpzoo.org; $6, ages 3-13 $3). Set in a 97-acre park, the zoo showcases the natural history of Massachusetts from the Berkshires to Buzzards Bay, featuring beavers and bears and Asian elephants (huh?). Discover touchable creatures, including rays and sharks at Ocean Explorium (174 Union St., 508-994-5400; www.oceanexplorium.org; $8.50, ages 3-17 $6.50.) Don’t expect something on the scale of the New England Aquarium, but this small marine science center offers lots of hands-on activity for children.

After Dark

The granddaddy of New Bedford’s night-life scene, the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center (684 Purchase St., 508-994-2900; www.zeiterion.org) is a vaudeville-era venue for performances, and home to two resident companies, the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra and the New Bedford Festival Theatre. Plan your visit to coincide with AHA! if you can. The free, downtown-wide Art, History, Architecture Project (508-996-8253; www.ahanewbedford.org) takes place the second Thursday of every month, featuring art exhibits, performance art, live music, and free entrance into the whaling museum. Among the city’s bars and taverns, Rose Alley Ale House (94 Front St., 508-858-5123;www.drinkrosealley.com) is a lively option, with live music (mostly local acts) most nights of the week, and a beer menu that includes 40 on tap.

Source: The Boston Globe

By Diane Bair and Pamela Wright
bairwright@gmail.com
GLOBE CORRESPONDENTS
NOVEMBER 12, 2013

Massachusetts Stakes Out Role in US Offshore Wind Development

Forbes Magazine
Peter Kelly-Detwiler, Contributor
I cover the forces and innovations that shape our energy future.

In August of 1924, hundreds of people gathered on the shores of New Bedford Harbor to see the last wooden whaling ship – the Wanderer – depart on what all knew to be its final voyage. It didn’t last long. Two days out to sea, the Wanderer was caught in a storm, and the last living vestige of American whaling was wrecked on the shores of Cuttyhunk Island.

In earlier and better times, New Bedford had been the undisputed whaling capital of the world. In its heyday in the 1840s the New Bedford fleet comprised over 60% of the world’s whaling vessels. The oil from leviathans hunted in all oceans of the world was used principally for lamps and candles. Globally renowned, New Bedford was one of the wealthier cities in theUnited States, known as ‘The City that Lit the World.’

But technology changed. In 1859, ‘Colonel’ Edwin Drake drilled his successful oil well in Titusville, Pennsylvania. The discovery of cheap and widely available oil quickly led to the widespread use of kerosene in lamps, displacing the whale oil that had built New Bedford, and gradually bringing death to the whaling industry.

Now, nearly a century later, a new energy technology is being developed, and New Bedford seeks to claim its rightful place in this new energy era. In a strange evolution, those abundant winds upon which the whalers sailed have themselves now become the source of energy. And unlike the whales – hunted into nearly irreversible decline – the offshore wind resources are inexhaustible. So the Commonwealth of Massachusetts plans to harness the wind to meet today’s demand for electricity. With the help of the Port of New Bedford, the Commonwealth intends to build a Marine Commerce Terminal – costing as much as $100 million – to support a budding offshore wind industry that will be worth tens of billions of dollars for equipment manufacturers likeGeneral Electric, Siemens and American Superconductor, when mature.

It will not be an easy task. Yesterday’s wooden ships and whaleboats will give way to towers soaring hundreds of feet into the sky, carbon fiber blades the length of football fields, and turbines the size of small trucks. The turbines and blades being considered for the job will probably be in the neighborhood of 6-10 MW each (this compares with the turbines in offshore Europe which typically range between 3-6 MW today, and averaged 4 MW last year). These new windmills will be leviathans themselves – current wind turbine blades are maxed out at 75 meters, but the technology will soon be pushing 100 meters. Put another way, when three blades are combined with a tower, they will eclipse the Washington Monument in height by 50%.

These turbines have to be large. Since offshore costs are 2 to 3 times those on land, one needs to put in the biggest turbines possible to take advantage of the constant winds offshore. Both blades and turbines will have to get bigger, better, and stronger in order to harvest the maximum amount of energy at the lowest cost. For example, increasing the rotor diameter from 150 m (today’s largest blades) to 200 m (currently in development by at least one competitor) the blades will increase in length by 33%, but the swept area, which captures the wind energy, will increase by 78% (R2). The move towards bigger turbines is clearly accelerating. In 2012, 31 companies announced plans for 38 turbine models. Of these, 76% were for turbines larger than 5 MW, and a few were as large as 10 MW or greater.

With these types of improvements, the DOE’s National Offshore Wind Strategy looks to lower costs to 10 cents per kilowatt-hour by 2020, with a long-term goal of 7 cents by 2030. Significant technological developments will clearly need to happen for this to occur. Each windmill will cost in the tens of millions of dollars. However, the energy extracted from thin air by these wind farms could well be worth billions, and create thousands of new jobs in the Commonwealth.

It’s an alluring story. And so, on a cold day this past January, I visited the Port of New Bedford at the invitation of Richard K. Sullivan, Jr., Massachusetts Secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, to learn more about the Commonwealth’s ambitious plans for the Marine Commerce Terminal and the offshore wind industry as a whole. As we strolled the pier with his staff and clambered down onto the beach, a seal swam just offshore between us and the silk curtains deployed to prevent winter flounder from spawning near the construction site.

Walking the shoreline, Secretary Sullivan and his team explained the aims of the Commonwealth and the specific details of the project. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has articulated a goal of developing 2,000 megawatts of wind energy by 2020, with most of it offshore. The offshore wind resource is considerable: A recent US Department of Energy survey indicates there is enough offshore wind to equal four times current US electric consumption, with 25% of that off the Northeastern US. In an effort to streamline the permitting process, the Federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management hasidentified two formal wind energy areas off the Massachusetts coast covering nearly 1,000 square miles, with leases to be offered for sale by competitive auction in 2013. Secretary Sullivan explained that these two areas alone contain the potential for 9,000 MW of wind energy. To put that number in context, New England’s highest peak demand for electricity tops out at just over 28,000 MW.

Turning that wind into energy will require the development of multiple wind farms and hundreds – if not thousands – of turbines. And if the European experience is anything to go by, it requires a significant investment in onshore infrastructure and supporting industries to make it happen. Massachusetts intends to position itself at the crux of this development, and is therefore moving ahead with the infrastructure to make this happen. The Commonwealth has already developed the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s Wind Technology Testing Center in Charlestown, MA, just outside of Boston, where they are testing the enormous blade technologies necessary for offshore. The next step is to develop the requisite port facilities.

To that end, the Commonwealth recently issued a tender for construction of a 28-acre terminal, as well as dredging 47 acres of the harbor to the necessary depth. The actual terminal will be multi-duty, able to handle both the highly specialized needs of the offshore wind industry, as well as more generalized merchant shipping. Three bidders responded in time to meet the February 15th deadline, and selection of the contractor will occur shortly. The 1,000 foot extension to the existing South Terminal bulkhead will be the only one of its kind on the East Coast, reinforced with specialized steel, and built to withstand a pressure of 4,000 lbs per square foot. The affiliated crane will also be specialized as well to handle heavy and cumbersome loads.

The planners are not merely building for the needs of today’s industry, but rather for the requirements of the offshore wind industry in the decades to come. Everything is being supersized in anticipation of technology which may be on the drawing board but which does not exist today. They are also building with an eye to our possible climate future – in anticipation of projected sea level rise, the bulkheads will be 11’ (rather than 9’ of the surrounding piers) above sea level.

In order to allow passage for the required vessels (which are likely to cost up to $100 million each – base on the experience of offshore wind in Europe), the adjoining channel will be dredged to a depth of 30 feet. The avoidance of surprise is critical here: to ensure they know the level of work involved, and whether blasting would be required (probably not), over 60 borings have already been taken to ascertain both the strength of the bedrock upon which the bulkhead will be constructed as well as the material to be removed from the harbor. The bulkhead will be long enough to accommodate two ships plus two jack-up barges.

In the immediate future, it is probable that the ships arriving will be from European companies, carrying blades, towers and nacelles for the projects. The Europeans have been working offshore for years, and are currently the only ones with the expertise and know-how at this point. At the end of 2012, they have installed 1,662 turbines in 55 offshore wind farms, totaling 4,995 MW. Last year alone, 293 turbines were installed, totaling 1,166 MW, and representing investments estimated to be in the range of $4.5 to $6 bn. Many of these turbines have been installed in the unforgiving and harsh environment of the North Sea.

All of this equipment will be offloaded at the terminal. The value-added work taking place on shore will largely involve the electrical integration of the pieces. Once ready for assembly, the towers, blades, and nacelles housing the generators will be carried to sea on jack-up barges. These vessels are technological marvels themselves, involving a combination of buoyant hulls and movable legs that allow them to ascend to a desired height (as high as 150 feet above sea level). They are also expensive – the biggest of them go for nearly $100 million. Jack-up barges create the stable platforms necessary to drive the pilings for the towers 80 feet or more into the seabed, and secure the wind turbines.

Longer-term, if and when the industry gets a secure foothold, it is expected that the offshore wind companies will bring investments to the local area. Secretary Sullivan expressed optimism: “We think, from experience in Europe, that the tipping point is 2,000 MW in the pipeline. After that, the imported components will start to decrease and more manufacturing would take place here.” The result would be to establish the New Bedford and neighboring Fall River area as a core area for production of the various necessary inputs. Everybody from local shipbuilders to machine shops could benefit from the economic ripple effects.

Bob Mitchell, CEO of the Atlantic Wind Connection, a company looking to build out the transmission backbone linking the windfarms off the coast of New Jersey, feels that this on-shoring of the manufacturing capability is critical in the long run. “We need to get manufacturing on US soil. The range of cost saving, if that were to happen, is somewhere between 18 and 25%. That’s pretty dramatic.”

There is some ‘Field of Dreams’ aspect to the project: if you build it, you hope the offshore wind developers will come. The underwater trunk transmission line carrying the power from the wind farms to shore has to be built. The supply chain must be developed and deepened, and skills sets developed from scratch. Critically, financing must be obtained for a largely unproven technology – the first of the giant turbines necessary to drive the costs down are just now being installed in Europe. The Independent System Operator that coordinates the grid and schedules power will have to be able to accommodate thousands of megawatts of wind.

So far, at least some of these pieces appear to be coming together. Secretary Sullivan noted that ten wind developers have already expressed interest, and many attended the EPA permitting hearings. Furthermore, Jim Gordon, the CEO of Cape Wind, has expressed his intent to stage out of New Bedford in 2014. This will provide initial impetus to the project – Cape Wind alone will involve erecting 130 3.6 MW Siemens turbines for the 468 MW project in nearby Nantucket Sound. Based on the experience of European offshore wind developers, this single project will likely take several years to complete

I spoke with Gordon about the project and he noted that one strong reason for developing wind in New England was the simple fact that “we are at the end of the energy pipeline. But we also have some of the greatest wind resources. Governor Patrick is positioning us to be a global leader in offshore wind with the investment in the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal.”

Gordon further commented “Government understands that prosperity comes to regions that develop their own energy resources. With whaling, New Bedford used to be the energy capital of the world. New Bedford banks financed the trans-continental railroad. We have the opportunity to develop an expertise in offshore wind that takes its rightful place with other Massachusetts industries like biotech, education, and computers.”

Gordon did express some concern about the tight timeline. Bids for the Terminal just came in this week February 15th, for project completion next year. “We’re hoping upon hope that the terminal is ready for in time for the Cape Wind project. If not, we have contingency back-up plans. But we need it ready in 2014.” Gordon points to all the jobs that will be created for the region if all goes according to plan “We’ve already done geo-tech work out of New Bedford. We had a four-month project with over 50 scientists and engineers. And don’t forget, these are 30-year wind projects, with long-term maintenance requirements and the jobs that come with that. It will take several years and several projects for the wind industry to feel confident enough to establish itself in the New Bedford area. That’s the experience in the UK. And of course, the more of these projects we do, the more the costs will fall dramatically.”

Some industry players are already taking the first steps to locate in the area. Siemens has set up its US offshore wind office in Boston, and offered assistance in specifying the technical requirements of the industry participants expected to use the port. Meanwhile ISO New England is “working on a series of wholesale market reforms that pertain to or impact wind power in New England.”

Other spinoff opportunities abound as well. It takes a significant number of vessels to service the offshore wind fields, and local boat builders are already looking to get into the game. Blount Boats in Rhode Island recently reached agreement with South Boats Special Projects to build US-flagged catamarans to service offshore wind facilities. Last June, Gladding-Hearn, a SE Massachusetts boatbuilder, signed a licensing agreement with Incat Crowther for an 18 meter service vessel. President Peter Duclos was quoted as saying “at this point, there are no wind farms approved or are fully funded or have sold their power.” Until all that happens, no one’s likely to order a boat, but “once contracts are signed, I think it’s going to bust open.”

It’s a bold undertaking, and a costly one. Part of the impetus to start now is to seize the high ground. Who gets there first wins. If the Marine Commerce Terminal gets built in New Bedford, the immediate incentive to construct competing terminals in nearby states falls dramatically, though the potential resources is so large that more ports could eventually be accommodated as the industry grows. At the same time, the Terminal needs to meet Cape Wind’s schedule and be ready for 2014. Assuming that project takes several years to deploy, the Terminal will need other companies lining up behind it to avoid a potential boom-bust scenario. Atlantic Wind Connection CEO Mitchell believes large wind will be in full-scale development off New Jersey by around 2019. If the same holds true for Massachusetts, there may be some gap between the end of Cape Wind deployment and the first activity related to offshore wind development. To partially hedge its bets in this area, the Commonwealth is designing the Marine Terminal to serve as a commercial port as well. Specifically, it is being designed to be able to handle high-volume bulk and container shipping, as well as large specialty marine cargo

Clearly, the success of the first Marine Terminal is not a sure thing. In order for the investment to be a long-term success, the delivered cost of wind energy will have to drop significantly. The developers will have to line up and make huge investments. Yet the economic potential may be enormous. As Secretary Sullivan commented “There are two ways to move forward in our energy policy. One way is to do nothing. The other approach is to accept some risk and try and create your own future.”

Two hundred years ago, New Bedford put itself on the world map with its investment in a whaling fleet. At its height, hundreds of whaling ships crisscrossed the globe on voyages that could last three to five years, and sometimes longer, fraught with enormous risks. Investors, captains and crew accepted these challenges because they deemed the rewards to be worth it. Once again, New Bedford is putting itself on the map, and Massachusetts is taking a financial risk investing in the Marine Commerce Terminal. If the offshore wind strategy falls into place, the rewards – clean energy, cleaner air, jobs, technology development, and profit – may be quite significant.