The Port of New Bedford is at the center of new, national offshore wind industry

It was a big summer for the offshore wind industry and the Port of New Bedford. We asked Paul Vigeant, managing director of the New Bedford Wind Energy Center, to put the summer’s events into perspective and look ahead to what New Bedford can expect as the industry develops.Paul Vigeant

Let’s start by talking about recent events related to offshore wind, starting with the legislation passed in June.

The passage of the diversified energy legislation by the Massachusetts Legislature, [which was signed by] Gov. Charlie Baker, fundamentally starts the offshore wind industry in the United States. It creates a market an
d it requires the utility companies to purchase wind energy-generated electricity.  That legislation essentially starts the offshore wind industry in the United States.

Soon after, Gov. Baker, other high-level state officials and three offshore wind developers were in New Bedford. Why were they here?
Within a [month] of signing the legislation that creates the offshore wind industry in the United States, there was a significant event in New Bedford. All three of the lease holders who have the right to develop the Massachusetts Wind Energy Area signed a letter of intent with the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, which owns the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal, which is purpose-built for the deployment of offshore wind devices. They collectively agreed to put up $5.7 million for the right to the terminal if they are selected as the provider of tha
t offshore wind energy.

Less than a week later, the federal government made headlines with offshore wind. Could you talk about that?

Good things happen in threes. So the third big announcement was a joint announcement by Secretary [Sally] Jewell, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, and Secretary Ernie Muniz, the U.S. Secretary of Energy. They jointly announced the national offshore wind strategy and they chose to make that announcement here in Massachusetts, which in and of itself shows the importance of this issue on a national scale….

In that event, it was remarkable how many times the Port of New Bedford was referenced not only by Mayor Mitchell, who did a good job to promote New Bedford, as he always does…. But also, Secretary Muniz mentioned it. Steve Pike, who is the head of the Clean Energy Center here in Massachusetts, mentioned New Bedford, the port and the infrastructure. Secretary Jewel mentioned it. Sen.
Markey mentioned it.

It was very encouraging to be in the audience and hear so many national leaders talk about not only this national offshore wind strategy, which the United States finally has, but to hear them say how prominent a role New Bedford will pay in this new and emerging industry. It was a terrific day for New Bedford.

What does this all mean for for New Bedford?

You’re already seeing a number of roles for New Bedford in the offshore wind industry. Not long after the announcement by the governor that the game is on [by signing new energy legislation]  you started to see research vessels using New Bedford and they will be using New Bedford for the next 12 to 18 months to supply their boats…. They will need fuel. They will need provisioning. So the first pop for New Bedford all be survey vessels, research vessels using the Marine Commerce Terminal.

What is the biggest potential for New Bedford with offshore wind?
The real big play for offshore wind is called operation and maintenance. Once you build and install these towers, they’re going to be there for 20 to 30 years so you need routine maintenance every day on these towers. That represents the highest number of jobs in any of the phases [of offshore wind development]. It represents the longest number of years committed to that number of jobs in any of the phases, whether it is assembly, deployment or construction. We are very well positioned to be the operations and maintenance center for offshore wind.

Why are we well positioned as an operations and maintenance center for offshore wind?
Having the right workforce, the right skill sets, the right workers with the right training is so important for offshore wind. New Bedford has a competitive advantage in that it has partnered with Bristol Community College, which for over a decade has been offering as part of one of its engineering program a wind energy certificate. We’re very serious at BCC about renewable energy and reducing the carbon footprint. We just built a zero impact building and we provide. training that will lead you to an associate’s degree with a concentration in wind energy.

How does offshore wind relate to the fishing industry?

Another important aspect about the training required for the offshore wind industry is [having] a blend of technical skills that can you do in a marine environment. And that differentiates New Bedford over anywhere in North America.… Because of our robust seafood industry and our fishing industry…we have the individuals who have the trade skills that are applied in the marine environment. It’s one thing, for instance, to know how to fix an electrical machine. It’s another thing to be able to fix it on top of a 35-story building in the middle of the ocean.

So you envision that individuals who now work in commercial fishing will be employed by offshore wind?

The number of days that fishermen are now limited to makes them available to augment their wages by working as operations and maintenance technicians in the offshore wind industry. So i envision a day when fish harvesters work a full schedule harvesting scallops and other fish products, and when the boats are in port because they’ve exhausted their licensing days, those people can find jobs in a minute working in the offshore wind industry as production technicians and electronic technicians.

How will these jobs pay?

The production jobs in offshore wind are very stable jobs, but they are  also very well paying jobs, [which carry benefits]. I think you’re looking at entry level production wages at the $18 to $20 per hour range, which is for New Bedford a very attractive and livable wage.

Offshore wind developers will use Port of New Bedford, Marine Commerce Terminal

Offshore wind executives agree to use terminal in Port of New Bedford

Government officials look on as offshore wind developers sign letter of intent to use Marine Commerce Terminal in New Bedford.

New Bedford and the South Coast region took an important step today toward realizing the promise of offshore wind. Three offshore wind energy companies agreed to use the $113 million Marine Commerce Terminal in the Port of New Bedford to stage the wind farms they plan to build off the coast of Massachusetts.

Representatives of Bay State Wind, Offshore ME and Deepwater Wind signed a letter of intent in a ceremony at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, with Gov. Charlie Baker, Rep. Pat Haddad, Mayor Jon Mitchell and other government leaders looking on.

The agreement comes just a month after Gov. Baker signed landmark energy legislation that includes 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind. He lauded the vision and perseverance of supporters, who fought for years for offshore wind and in June battled into the final hours of the legislative session.

Noting that he is a relative newcomer to supporting offshore wind, Baker said, “Massachusetts is an ideal place for the offshore wind industry to flourish, innovate and develop, bringing quality jobs and long-term economic growth.”

Mayor Jon Mitchell said the day’s signing was the culmination of years of work by Matt Morrissey, vice president of Deepwater Wind; Paul Vigeant, executive director of the Wind Energy Center; Rep. Pat Haddad and rest of the South Coast legislative delegation and others.

He said that when he became mayor, he immediately saw the wisdom of having offshore wind in New Bedford. The port lands the most valuable catch of any fishing port in the country and hosts economic activity that contributes two percent to the state’s GDP. The city also is a nationally recognized leader in green energy.

He vowed, however, that New Bedford would compete hard for the offshore wind industry and not “just sit back and wait for it to happen.”

Morrissey predicted that offshore wind will become “a substantial industrial player in the economy of Southeastern Massachusetts.” In fact, the industry will soon become a reality in the United States, when five turbines start spinning at Deepwater Wind’s newly built 30 megawatt Block Island Wind Farm. Morrissey is the former managing director of Offshore Wind: Massachusetts and before that was head of the New Bedford Wind Energy Center.

Rep. Haddad said the backing of Gov. Baker and Energy Secretary Matthew Beaton was the result of “a lot of nagging” by supporters of offshore wind. But the work was not just for the City of New Bedford or the South Coast, she said, but for all of Massachusetts and New England.

Read news accounts at the Boston Globe, Southcoast Today, CBS News, and the Boston Business Journal.

Standard-Times’ report recounts how new Massachusetts offshore wind industry came to be

Those who believed that the creation of an offshore wind industry in Massachusetts was possible were people of faith.

Standard-Times reporter Mike Lawrence’s terrific story about the long struggle to make offshore wind a reality is worth a read by anyone interested in what it takes to turn an idea into reality and a bill into law.

There are lots of heroes in this story, including state Rep. Pat Haddad, who spent more than a year selling a bill that many viewed as an impossibility after an earlier attempt failed to pass the Legislature last summer and after the Cape Wind project, which would have put more than 100 turbines in Nantucket Sound off the Cape, was derailed. State Rep. Tony Cabral and state Sen. Mark Montigny, along with the rest of the SouthCoast delegation, presented a united front in the Legislature and in the Baker administration.

And former New Bedford Wind Energy Center director Matthew Morrissey, who now works for Deepwater Wind and spent years lobbying lawmakers, regulators, business interests and environmental activists, deserves tremendous credit for his unshakeable commitment to seeing this project through.

A lot of critics out have looked at the $113 million New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal and called it a boondoggle. Some still may see it that way, but those voices are fewer since the arrival in New Bedford of a survey vessel that will help pull together the scientific data that three major wind power firms will use to prepare bids in the competition to win the right to begin building the first industrial-scale offshore wind project in the United States. An industry that will be serviced by one of the finest seaports on the East Coast and the only marine commerce terminal built especially to handle the enormous components of these wind turbines.

New Bedford and the entire SouthCoast are well-positioned to compete for jobs and investments that will accompany the startup of this new industry. Let’s be ready…and for now, let’s say thank you to all those who made it happen.


BCC, UMass Dartmouth, Mass. Maritime play key role in offshore wind

Massachusetts colleges and universities will play key roles in training workers, finding cost savings and ensuring safety as the states’s new offshore wind industry takes shape.

On Friday, the Baker-Polito administration announced the award of some $700,000 in grants to universities and research institutions.  Included is $248,000 for a consortium including Bristol Community College, UMass Dartmouth and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy to identify workforce requirements for jobs in the new industry, to assess the number and types of of jobs likely to be produced, and to determine health and safety training needs.

“Tapping into the Commonwealth’s world-class academic and research institutions will make Massachusetts a leader in the growing offshore wind sector in the United States,” said Gov. Charlie Baker in announcing the grants from the state’s Clean Energy Center. “These research projects will identify ways to make offshore wind projects more cost-effective and beneficial to the ratepayers of Massachusetts.”
Six Massachusetts academic and research institutions – Northeastern University, Tufts University, University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, University of Massachusetts Lowell and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution – have been awarded $300,000 to develop a multi-disciplinary framework for offshore wind research, focusing on increasing innovation within projects and reducing costs by examining risks, finances and regulations.
UMass Lowell  will get $150,000 to develop a new system for monitoring the structural health of wind turbine blades.
“These research projects will help utilize the abundant talent in our colleges and universities,” said state Sen. Mark Montigny, D-New Bedford.  “The South Coast has a rich history of employment tied to the ocean and the opportunities created by this funding will help protect this tradition through advancements in offshore wind.”


Let the Massachusetts Wind Rush begin

Baker signsAt 11:59 a.m. on April 22, 1889, around 50,000 people on horseback and wagon lined up just outside five vast unassigned tracts of land totaling 2 million acres in present-day Oklahoma.

At noon they were off in a made dash to lay quick claim to the most desirable tracts. By the end of that day, about 10,000 people had already settled in empty places that would become Oklahoma City and Guthrie.

It was the Oklahoma Land Rush and it made landowners out of thousands of people looking to homestead on land that previously had been home to Native Americans, bison and antelope, and thousands of square miles of prairie grass.

It’s not hard to imagine something like it today just a handful of miles off Martha’s Vineyard, where three tracts of ocean will be the designated homes for a new Massachusetts offshore wind industry created earlier this month with the signature by Gov. Charlie Baker (see above photo) on a bill that requires the state’s public utilities to purchase 1,600 MW of power from wind farms that will be built there.

It’s a lot of power: equal to approximately to 10 percent of the total produced by Massachusetts. And with perhaps $10 billion worth of development available, offshore wind has the potential to remake the state’s economy, especially here in greater New Bedford, whose port is among the finest on the East Coast and which boasts the only marine commerce terminal built especially to serve the offshore wind industry.

The contract for the first phase of the project, an expected 4,000 MW, should be signed by next spring or summer, and shortly thereafter construction can start. In the meantime, dozens of local businesses, training organizations, colleges and universities are gearing up to identify roles they can play.

New Bedford’s Matthew Morrissey, who formerly headed the New Bedford Wind Energy Center and now will lead Deepwater Wind Massachusetts (expected to be one of the bidders on the first project to be bid) and fishing industry consultant Jim Kendall, who will advise Bay State Wind (a subsidiary of one of the other expected bidders, DONG Energy) already are at work.

It’s just the beginning. The New York Times earlier this week reported on the completion of Deepwater Wind’s small wind project just off Block Island and noted that it was the harbinger of a transition to sea-based renewable energy.

And here we are, with thousands of trained marine services employees and commercial fishermen, located just a few hours sail from the site of the new wind farms off the Vineyard. It’s a historic opportunity, and greater New Bedford is in a good position to serve this new industry as the Massachusetts Wind Rush begins.

Massachusetts charting new course on clean energy

sailing-windgenerators-webBetween now and the end of July, Massachusetts will make history

The House of Representatives and the state Senate will appoint members to a conference committee that will recommend a final bill that will shape the Commonwealth’s energy policy for decades. The bill must be passed by the end of the current legislative session July 31 before going to Gov. Charlie Baker for his signature.

The conference committee will reconcile differences between the two bodies over how much offshore wind power public utilities will be required to buy, as well as determine the role of other green energy sources like solar and hydro in the state’s energy portfolio.

In addition, the bill reflects growing concern about natural gas, which already accounts for about 63 percent of the state’s power. A study by the office of Attorney General Maura Healey last fall found that no new pipelines are necessary and that green energy offered a better, more affordable option in the future. One provision in the Senate’s version would forbid the utilities charging ratepayers for the up-front costs of new gas pipelines.

The local legislative delegation, led by state Rep. Pat Haddad worked effectively for two years to ensure that offshore wind would play a central role in Massachusetts’ energy future. Just a little more work to be done!

Local investors planning brewpub in downtown New Bedford

By Mike Lawrence

June 29. 2016 7:01PM

NEW BEDFORD — A team of local investors is planning to open a brewpub early next spring on a downtown corner at Union and Water streets, with a $1.3 million project that will be called Moby Dick Brewing Co.

“This is an idea that some of us have been thinking about for a long time but which came together quickly over the winter,” said David Slutz, the company’s president. “We all wanted to do something that would be interesting and good for the City of New Bedford. We hope to be involved in lots of community initiatives, provide some jobs and help attract visitors to the city.”

Slutz was the CEO of Precix, a North End manufacturing company that employs more than 400 people, before resigning in January. He’s now managing director of Potentia Business Solutions, an investment firm he’s launched with three partners.

He’s also leading operations for the downtown brewery, restaurant and bar, which will seat nearly 100 at the corner location a few doors up Union from Slainte Irish Pub. The Moby Dick Brewing Co. site is diagonally across the intersection from the New Bedford Whaling Museum, and Slutz said cross-marketing talks already are in the works.

Last fall, the site housed the campaign office for Mayor Jon Mitchell’s re-election bid.

“The brewery is another significant addition to the downtown,” Mitchell said Wednesday. “That is a very prominent corner, and this new business will really stand out.”

Slutz said a Planning Board hearing for the brewpub is scheduled for July. The group is aiming to open in March, he said, pending approvals, permitting, renovations and more.

Backers of the project have strong local ties.

The investment team includes Slutz; Maureen Sylvia Armstrong, CEO of the Sylvia Group in Dartmouth; Peter Kavanaugh, owner of Brownell Boat Stands in Mattapoisett and president of La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries in Dartmouth; Richard Lafrance, CEO of Lafrance Hospitality, which operates the New Bedford Fairfield Inn & Suites and White’s of Westport, among other hotel and restaurant holdings; and Bob Unger, principal of Unger LeBlanc Inc. Strategic Communications.

Unger also is a former editor and associate publisher of The Standard-Times and SouthCoast Media Group.

The group will lease the space from longtime building owner Brian Marder. Walking through the future Moby Dick space Wednesday, Slutz and Unger talked about a family-friendly concept with large windows and outdoor seating; a small retail area for memorabilia and more; pub-style menu items; and a 10-barrel brewery operation behind the bar area.

“The brewpub’s design, menu and atmosphere will echo New Bedford’s historic whaling and fishing history with authentic artwork, photography and artifacts,” a new release from the group stated.

The project’s architect is Kevin Caldwell, of Caldwell Architectural Associates in New Bedford.

Unger said the group hopes the bar will add to a planned revitalization of State Pier and other projects emerging downtown, such as Columbus Group’s $10 million hotel and restaurant project at the corner of Union and Pleasant streets.

“We’re making a bet that it’s going to work out for New Bedford,” Unger said. “We want to be part of a restaurant district.”

A few steps away on North Water Street, Erik Bevans said business has been strong at Whaler’s Tavern, which celebrated its one-year anniversary June 16.

“It’s exceeded our expectations,” said Bevans, a co-owner of Quahog Republic, which also has restaurants in Falmouth and Onset.

Lower on Union, co-owner Jason Lanagan said The Cultivator bar is within weeks of opening its doors, adjacent to New Bedford Tattoo Co.

“The Cultivator is scheduled to open very soon,” Lanagan said. “We’re just putting the finishing touches on the construction and build-out.”

Follow Mike Lawrence on Twitter @MikeLawrenceSCT/

New Bedford gets $5 million to extend Hurricane Barrier walkway

By Sandy Quadros Bowles

April 14. 2016 3:06PM

NEW BEDFORD — The goal of building waterfront walkways around much of New Bedford moved a step closer Thursday as the city announced it has secured just over $5 million in state funds to build a second walkway atop the hurricane barrier. 

The second walkway will be along Clark’s Cove and called CoveWalk. The HarborWalk along mouth of the Acushnet River opened last fall.

Mayor Jon Mitchell has advocated for the hurricane barrier walkways since he took office and Mayor Scott Lang before him. Mitchell said he invited State Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack and Highway Administrator Tom Tinlin to the city to view the harborwalk and seek their support for the next phase. “I’ve really worked that idea with them,’’ he said.

“This announcement marks an important step toward achieving our long-term goal of ringing the city with a system of waterside trails that will enrich the quality of life in neighborhoods from the North End to the South End, raise property values, and draw visitors,’’ Mitchell said in a statement. “Our connection to the water is New Bedford’s greatest asset.’’

Work on the CoveWalk should start fairly soon, and might be completed by the end of the year, Mitchell said, because permitting and some design work were done in anticipation of the funding.

The walkways open a new vista to the water that was previously obstructed by the 18-foot-high, 4,600-foot stone wall, which was dedicated in 1966. The barrier was built after the hurricanes of the 1940s and ’50s flooded much of the city, including damaging the mills. The hurricane barrier remains the largest man-made structure on the East Coast of the United States

The popularity of the 3,400-foot long HarborWalk regularly draws walkers and cyclists and has exceeded his expectations, Mitchell said. “On nice days last fall, it certainly could get very crowded,” he said. The city also intends to build a riverwalk along the Acushnet River in the North End as the cleanup of PCBs in the harbor is completed.

State Sen. Mark Montigny, D-New Bedford, led Senate efforts to secure state funding for the $5 million project. “This long overdue amenity for our residents will foster a further appreciation for our shorelines that have been shielded from public view for over 50 years,” he said in a statement.

“New Bedford Harbor is one of the natural wonders of Massachusetts and today’s state grant will help everyone, local residents and visitors, better experience it,” said State Rep. Antonio F.D. Cabral, D-New Bedford in a statement.

Follow Sandy Quadros Bowles on Twitter at @SandyBowlesSCT 

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SouthCoast Job Fair draws more than 1,000 to Seaport in Fairhaven

By Mike Lawrence

March 31. 2016 8:02PM

FAIRHAVEN — Tammy Garnett, human resources director for Edaville USA, said a job candidate’s first few minutes at her table Thursday could reflect their potential customer service skills at the Carver amusement park this summer.

“You can learn a lot about someone in that short bit, and how they might react to a guest walking up in the park,” Garnett said during the SouthCoast Job Fair, held at the Seaport Inn and Marina in Fairhaven.

“Communication is huge for us, and the ability to spark a conversation,” she added.

Conversations were flying fast in the mirror-ceilinged Seaport meeting room, where about 90 businesses spoke with SouthCoast jobseekers. Ian Abreu, manager of workforce and business development at the New Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce, said more than 1,000 people attended the bustling, five-hour event.

“The acoustics can be a little tough,” Trudy Wallach joked, referring to the room’s noise level. Wallach is a senior human resources consultant for Teufelberger, a Fall River fiber rope manufacturer.

Noise aside, Wallach said Thursday’s event was the best of several recent job fairs the company had attended, because of both the amount and quality of candidates.

“We’ve got a stack of applications,” Wallach said, rifling through a pile of more than 50 resumes.

One job-seeker at the fair was Fairhaven resident Lauren Messier, 30.

“I feel like it was a decent variety — a lot of medical,” Messier said of the pool of employers.

Messier has a marketing degree and was looking for an administrative position, but was selective, saying she only handed out about “six to 10” resumes.

“You’re looking for the right fit,” she said.

New Bedford resident Ryan Arruda, 29, also said he was looking for administrative or management positions, after six years of active duty in the U.S. Air Force. Arruda said he was selective about approaching employers, as well.

“The first thing I look for is something I have experience in,” he said. “The next thing I look for is something I believe in.”

Garnett said she and a colleague spoke with more than 100 job candidates about a wide range of jobs at the Carver park. The company will host its own job fairs, or “casting calls,” in April. The casting calls will involve group interviews and team-building exercises, Garnett said, for candidates 16 and older. More information is online at

Thursday’s event followed up on last April’s SouthCoast Job Fair, held at UMass Dartmouth’s Tripp Athletic Center. That fair, Abreu said last spring, led to nearly 400 full-time jobs, nearly 400 internships and more than 200 part-time or seasonal jobs in the region.

This year’s event was hosted by the Chamber, the Greater New Bedford Career Center, Greater New Bedford Workforce Investment Board and Bristol Community College.

Follow Mike Lawrence on Twitter @MikeLawrenceSCT

Original Article Here:

Boutique Hotel Project Announced in Downtown New Bedford

March 8, 2016
City of New Bedford, Jonathan F. Mitchell, Mayor

New Bedford, Massachusetts—A real estate developer with a history of success in downtown New Bedford is announcing plans to completely renovate a 46,600 square foot building located at 218-226 Union Street at projected cost of $10 million.  The building, vacant for an extended period, at one time housed the offices of radio station WBSM on its first floor.

The property will be converted by the Boston-based Columbus Group to a boutique hotel with 68 hotel rooms, a 3,300 square foot restaurant, and a 5,100 square foot banquet space.  The building was acquired in December 2015 by New Bedford Urban Renaissance II LLC, an arm of the Columbus Group.  With substantial progress already made on financing and design, the project recently began preliminary discussions with city officials as part of the permitting process.

“Columbus Group is excited to develop 218-226 Union Street and transform it into a boutique hotel in the heart of downtown. We have continuously worked on this project for more than two years with the NBEDC and a host of professional hospitality firms and will be starting work in the near future.  We appreciate the support of Mayor Mitchell, the City Council, City departments, and the downtown community.  As with our first project at the historic Standard Times building, the new hotel is another piece in the ongoing revitalization of downtown New Bedford,” said Shiawee Yang, PhD., President of Columbus Group, LLC.”

“The economic momentum of the city and the downtown continues to spark investor interest, and the growing confidence in the direction of the city is definitely an important factor in the project being announced today,” said Mayor Jon Mitchell.

Mitchell added, “The other major impetus behind this project is market demand.  The evidence abounds that New Bedford can support many more hotel rooms than are presently being offered, so investors, like Columbus Group, are smart to take advantage of a tremendous opportunity in the local hotel market.  I fully expect them to be a great success.”

Ward 4 Councillor Dana Rebeiro welcomed the announcement, saying “I am excited for the beautification the new hotel will bring, as well as the permanent jobs it will create for our city.”

Director of Economic Development for the New Bedford Economic Development Council, Derek Santos, said “This project is a game-changer on at least three levels.  It will give new life to an underutilized, strategically located building at the heart of the downtown.  The resulting boost to pedestrian traffic will be a welcome shot in the arm for downtown storefront businesses.  And the additional hotel rooms will further cement New Bedford’s status as a important tourism destination.”

The project means significant job-creation in both the construction and operation phases.  The hotel and restaurant are together expected to employ more than fifty people when fully staffed.  The developer has committed to a local hiring preference with an expectation that the majority of the jobs will go to New Bedford residents.

Waterford Hotel Group LLC will serve as the management company for the hotel operation.  Waterford is one of the national top hotel and convention center management companies.  Waterford manages a 3,834 hotel rooms at 29 properties across eight states.

The Columbus Group was responsible for the conversion the former Standard Times Building at 555 Pleasant Street.  The building now hosts various offices, including IoT Impact Labs, an internet connectivity company that works to connect major technology firms with marine and other local applications.


Elizabeth Treadup Pio, Esq.
Public Information Officer
City of New Bedford
Office of the Mayor
(508) 979-1410 office
(508) 989-4407 cell