Birth of a new base industry in New Bedford

It took a century for the epicenter of the whaling industry to shift from Nantucket to New Bedford, and it took half a century for whaling to give way to textiles here.

Things happen a lot faster now, thanks to technology, instant communications and global competition, and by the time this decade is over, the US offshore wind industry will have evolved from a concept to a base energy industry along the East Coast.

Listen to New Bedford Economic Development Director Derek Santos (above) and Wind Energy Center Director Paul Vigeant (below) talk about New Bedford’s position at the center of a new base industry that will supply vast amounts of clean, renewable energy and employ an estimated 43,000 workers by 2030.

Offshore wind industry opens shop in New Bedford

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell (above) welcomed Deepwater Wind’s opening of its Massachusetts headquarters in the former Standard-Times building downtown Friday, saying the city “wants to be the center of it all” as offshore wind matures into a new base industry for the Commonwealth.

“We want the offshore wind industry to form a cluster here,” he said, adding that New Bedford wants not only the assembly and deployment business, and  manufacturing and support services.

“But we also want the front office as well,” he said, as is the case with New Bedford’s top-grossing fishing industry, which brings together labor, capital and research (from the UMass School for Marine Science and Technology).

“We’re not going just to be the city of big shoulders in the offshore wind industry…*(but) the city with the brains and capital as well,” Mitchell said.

Jeff Grybowski (below), the CEO of Deepwater, which last year built the first offshore wind farm in the US off Block Island and next will build a 90MW wind farm off eastern Long Island, said the company has “a string of projects we hope to build in the US in the coming decade.

“New Bedford has always been at the center of our strategy for building out this industry,” he said.

Deepwater Wind’s New Bedford office opens Friday

Deepwater Wind, the successful developer of the first US offshore wind farm, will officially open an office in New Bedford on Friday.

The company is opening southeastern Massachusetts headquarters on the top floor of the historic Standard-Times building, 555 Pleasant St. Deepwater Wind’s Massachusetts vice president, Matthew Morrissey, said the company expects New Bedford — home to the nation’s only marine commerce terminal designed specifically to handle the enormous weight of wind turbine components — to play a central role in the buildout of the new offshore wind industry.

It’s been a busy period for the company. In addition to completing its Block Island project in 2016, Deepater Wind recently completed an agreement with a New York utility to build a 90 MW project off Long Island. It also plans to develop another wind project off Rhode Island and expects to be one of the bidders on a 400MW project that will be bid this spring off Massachusetts — part of a new energy law that requires Massachusetts utilities to purchase 1,600MW of power over the next decade.

 

Morrissey, Haddad honored for work on behalf of offshore wind

The selection of Deepwater Wind Vice President Matthew Morrissey and state Rep. Patricia Haddad, D-Somerset, as SouthCoast Man and Woman of the Year is recognition not only of the  duo’s great work on offshore wind, but also of the collaborative and consistent approach needed to build the new industry.

Morrissey and Haddad deserve great credit for their leadership and years worth of determination to persuade the Massachusetts Legislature, Gov. Charlie Baker, a swarm of environmental groups and regulators, and regional business interests that the state and region could be the launching point for a new industry that would help fight global warming and create vast economic opportunities.

But both Morrissey and Haddad would be the first to admit that it took a concerted effort from the entire legislative delegation, New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell and Economic Development Director Derek Santos, the Port of New Bedford, local colleges and universities, and others to win passage of a new state law requiring Massachusetts’ utilities to purchase 1,600 MW of offshore wind power.

And it will take similar commitment to make sure that the industry, which will start to build out over the next decade, provides the benefits that we all seek. The interests of commercial fishermen, organized labor, marine mammals, coastal communities and business and residential power users all will need to be protected.

In the meantime, we applaud The Standard-Times’ selection of Morrissey and Haddad, and we congratulate the pair for accomplishing something many people would have called impossible not long ago.

Learn what offshore wind means for New Bedford

Events are happening so quickly as  the new US offshore wind industry begins to take shape that it’s hard to keep up. It’s harder still to know what is happening here in New Bedford, which will be home port for much of the work as the industry builds out. Just what will happen here, when will it happen and what will all of that mean?

You’ll have a chance to find out about what offshore wind will mean for New Bedford and southeastern Massachusetts businesses and workers at a Feb. 9 breakfast conversation hosted by the New Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce.

The discussion will feature a panel including:

— Paul Vigeant, managing director of the New Bedford Wind Energy Center;

— Derek Santos, executive director of the New Bedford Economic Development Council;

— Ed Anthes-Washburn, director of the Port of New Bedford;

— Matthew Morrissey, Massachusetts vice president for Deepwater Wind, one of three developers looking to build wind farms south of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

They’ll talk about what the building of an offshore wind industry will likely mean for New Bedford and other Massachusetts and Rhode Island coastal cities. Deepwater Wind recently began producing electrical power at its wind farm just off Block Island and is expected to bid next spring on  a contract to build 400 MW of power on leased federal ocean waters 15 to 25 miles off the Vineyard. The Port of New Bedford is home to the nation’s only Marine Commerce Terminal built especially to accommodate the assembly and shipping of enormous offshore wind turbine components, and the New Bedford Economic Development Council and the Port of New Bedford are deep into planning how best to accommodate and encourage the growth of the new industry.

The discussion is part of the Chamber’s popular Good Morning SouthCoast series and will be held at 7:30 a.m. at the Waypoint Convention Center at the Fairfield Inn & Suites, 185 MacArthur Dr, New Bedford. Contact the Chamber for reservations.

 

Deepwater Wind leading the way on offshore wind

Deepwater Wind, whose five-turbine wind farm off Block Island will come online this month, is moving quickly to establish itself as the early industry leader in the United States.
It’s one of three offshore wind developers expected to bid to build the first industrial-scale wind farm off the coast of Massachusetts. Deepwater Wind also is opening an office in New Bedford, whose Marine Commerce Terminal will be a primary site for assembling and transporting turbine components for 1,600 MW of wind power just south of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, as well as other projects along the East Coast

Matthew Morrissey is the Massachusetts vice president of Deepwater Wind, which is opening an office in New Bedford.

Matthew Morrissey is the Massachusetts vice president of Deepwater Wind, which is opening an office in New Bedford.

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But Deepwater Wind, whose Massachusetts vice president is former New Bedford Wind Energy Director Matthew Morrissey, also recently acquired the lease for developing the 120 MW Skipjack wind project off the coast of Maryland and is hoping to build off Montauk Point, NY, as well as another project between Block Island and the Vineyard off the coast of Rhode Island.

Massachusetts, RI, NY…where’s next for offshore wind?

As most probably know, the first offshore wind farm tone built in the United States is located just a few miles off the coast of Block Island.

img_0052But now that Deepwater Wind has finished building that five-turbine project and is supplying electric power at a fraction of what it previously was costing Block Islanders, where will the next offshore wind farm be located?

Activity has picked up sharply since Massachusetts enacted energy legislation that will enable the construction of 1,600MW of power to be developed near Martha’s Vineyard. (That’s enough to power one-third of all the homes in Massachusetts). New York State, Maryland, Rhode Island and others are looking to get started.
Let’s pick up our conversation with Deepwater Wind’s Matt Morrissey, who expects the coast of Massachusetts and Rhode Island will be important launching points for the new industry — right out of the Port of New Bedford, home to the nation’s only marine commerce terminal build especially for offshore wind, as well as
in coastal cities around the region..

Deepwater Wind’s Morrissey sees big things for his hometown

img_0052Matt Morrissey is a New Bedford guy through and through. He’s run for mayor, sat on the UMass Dartmouth board of trustees, headed the city economic development office and directed the New Bedford Wind Energy Center. When offshore wind captured his imagination five or six years ago, he saw it as a chance to help do something big for his hometown.

He helped form the Offshore Wind Massachusetts advocacy group that successfully made the case that offshore wind could help the commonwealth meet its green energy targets and build a brand new industry that would employ thousands of people in good jobs at high wages. As most people know, Gov. Charlie Baker signed energy legislation last August that required the state’s utilities to purchase energy produced by the three developers leasing federal waters for wind farms south of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

Not long after, he went to work for one of those developers, Deepwater Wind, which recently finished building the first offshore wind farm in the United States. Deepwater and the other developers, Bay State Wind and Vineyard Wind, all are committed to using the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal to help support the construction of hundreds of immense wind turbines 15 to 25 miles off the coast.

Morrissey sees big things for his hometown. Listen to what he has to say about the advantages the Port of New Bedford enjoys has over anyplace else as the offshore wind industry  takes off over the next decade.

Fishermen helped in siting offshore wind farms

You can’t say that Massachusetts officials haven’t been engaged during the creation of the new offshore wind industry. Bill White of the Massachusetts

Bill White of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center told an audience in New Bedford that the state's first 1,600 MW of offshore wind will eliminate 2.4 million tons of greenhouse gases annually;

Bill White of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center told an audience in New Bedford that the state’s first 1,600 MW of offshore wind will eliminate 2.4 million tons of greenhouse gases annually;

Clean Energy Center told an audience of about 50 at the New Bedford Free Public Library that more than 100 meetings with citizens and stakeholders have been held since 2009.

The state created working groups on fisheries and habitat to ensure that the interests of both commercial fishermen and environmental advocates were taken into consideration in identifying the future sites of offshore wind farms south of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

As a result of those conversations, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management reduced the area leased to offshore wind developers Deepwater Wind, Bay State Wind and Vineyard Wind by 60 percent. Other conversation will guide the routes of buried electrical transmission lines under 6 to 12 feet of ocean floor.

“A lot of the changes (resulted from) the input of the commercial fishing industry,” White said.

Studies of marine species — including right whales and leatherback turtles — and birds like long-tailed ducks and white wing scoters that are frequent visitors to our waters are ongoing, and recommendations to regulate construction and location of wind turbines 15 to 25 miles south of the Vineyard are forthcoming, along with additional studies to help guide the process so that it works in the everyone’s best interests.

New Bedford Wind Energy Center Director Paul Vigeant is helping lead a study of workforce size and training needs for the new industry as it builds out over the next decade.

“Our goal is to know in four or five years that we have a ready workforce,” he said.

Bristol Community College, UMass Dartmouth and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy are participating in the study.

 

 

 

What happens to US energy policy under Trump?

President-elect Donald Trump’s selection of climate change skeptic Myron Ebell to lead his transition team’s environmental working group (he is also a possible candidate to head the EPA) has made renewable energy supporters nervous.

Ebell works for a libertarian think tank, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, whose website states that it “questions global warming alarmism, makes the case for access to affordable energy, and opposes energy-rationing policies, including the Kyoto Protocol, cap-and-trade legislation, and EPA regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. CEI also opposes all government mandates and subsidies for conventional and alternative energy technologies.”

And Trump, of course, has stated that his administration will be more interested in boosting the coal industry than the offshore wind or solar power industry. But if President Obama is right in describing Trump as a pragmatist rather than an ideologue, the incoming president conceivably could modify his stance. New York State, of course, is aggressively pursuing an alternative energy agenda, and offshore wind will be a part of that.

Look for the states to fill the void in environmental regulation and alternative energy policy if the federal government opts out.

Massachusetts remains a national leader in energy efficiency with fast growth in solar and a commitment to build 1,600 MW of offshore wind power over the next decade.