New Bedford looks to reap lots of good-paying jobs

Paul Vigeant Europe has a head start of more than two decades on the United States in the development of offshore wind, and backers of offshore wind here expect to learn from Europe’s experience.
In the first six months of 2016, Europe installed more than 4,000MW of offshore wind power to the European grid, bringing the total amount of installed power to more than 11,500MW. (Compare that to the 1,600MW that will be built of the Massachusetts coast during the next decade).
US developers — who will use the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal during the installation of the turbines off Martha’s Vineyard — plan to benefit from technological improvements that will reduce costs. Bigger, more efficient turbines mean that fewer will have to be built to provide power equivalent to that of those being built in Europe.
New Bedford, of course, is in a prime position with a the marine commerce terminal being located near the Vineyard and it being the only one in the country built especially to handle the tremendous size and weight of new wind turbine components.
And southeastern Massachusetts, especially New Bedford — home to the most lucrative fishing port in the country — can provide thousands of workers who have experience working in a marine environment.
Internationally, the median wage of offshore wind employees with five years experience is more than $88,000 per year. That’s good news for workers in greater New Bedford.
New Bedford Wind Energy Center Director Paul Vigeant, above, vice president for workforce development at Bristol Community College, predicts that lots of good-paying, permanent jobs will be available in maintaining and operating the wind turbines that will be built here in coming years. He expects entry-level wages of at least $18-$20 per hour to start.

New Bedford commands center stage in nation’s energy future

How big a deal is it that a new federal energy strategy was announced not in  Texas or Oklahoma, but right here in Massachusetts? And how big a deal is that New Bedford was at center stage for the announcement that the United States supports the construction of 86,000 MW of offshore wind power by 2050, about 14 percent of the projected demand for new electricity generation on the coast and Great Lakes states, according to a new federal report on the future of offshore wind.

Mayor Jon Mitchell, Rep. Pat Haddad, New Bedford Wind Energy Center Director Paul Vigeant and Deepwater Wind Massachusetts Vice President Matthew Morrissey (former director of the WEC and the New Bedford Economic Development office) were among those at the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s (MassCEC) Wind Technology Testing Center in Charlestown for Friday’s announcement. (Watch video below  of comments from US Sen. Edward Markey during that announcement).

Present for the announcement were two members of President Obama’s cabinet, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who is from Fall River, and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, along with Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Abigail Hopper

Their presence reflects Massachusetts’ and New Bedford’s central role in the launch of this new industry. Just last week, three offshore wind developers agreed to use the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal for the first industrial-scale offshore wind farm in the United States, which will be built in federal waters off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard.

“This national offshore wind plan positions New Bedford at the center of activity. The offshore wind energy identified in this plan is sufficient to power the entire nation now and well into the future,” said the WEC’s Vigeant. “Developers will need a full service industrial port to deploy and service their turbines, towers and foundations. And they will need a highly skilled workforce that knows how to work in the marine environment.

“So New Bedford is ready to act now to capitalize on its port and training advantages. Eventually other ports and cities will catch up and compete with New Bedford. We need to outhustle the competition and take advantage of our port assets.”

So…we have lots of work to do as this new industry takes off, but this much we know: we will NOT be outhustled!

 

Mayor Mitchell says New Bedford holds future in its own hands

It was big news this week when three offshore wind companies signed an agreement to use the Port of New Bedford as a base for building their wind farms off the coast of Massachusetts.

But for New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell, it was just one more step — if an essential one — toward making this city the center of the offshore wind energy industry in the United States.

“We have made a lot of progress and the offshore wind industry has shown a certain level of interest in New Bedford, but it’s not pre-ordained that New Bedford will prosper as a result,” Mitchell said. “It is incumbent upon us to seize the initiative.”

The mayor envisions a city where offshore wind is a broad and varied presence. He would like to see the developers open offices in the city and offshore wind technicians trained here. He also would like the city to host research related to all aspects of offshore wind energy, from turbine technology to ocean currents. He wants to involve all sectors of the economy, from maritime to higher education, and hopes that over time offshore wind jobs will encompass welders, truck drivers, carpenters, boat operators, engineers, academics and back office support.

New Bedford has a head start in making that vision a reality. The port has the $113 million New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal, which is the only terminal in the United States built to the specifications of the offshore wind industry.  As an active fishing and cargo port that by some measures is larger than the Port of Boston, New Bedford also has an experienced maritime workforce and a roster of businesses that can supply offshore wind’s needs. Furthermore, the city has been working for five years to get to know the offshore wind energy industry. In early 2013, Mitchell established the New Bedford Wind Energy Center as part of the New Bedford Economic Development Council.

“We have a lead of sorts to become the the center of a new industry and solidify the region’s economic base for the foreseeable future,” Mitchell said. “But we have a lot of work to do to prepare and there are challenges ahead.”

Ports in Rhode Island, New Jersey, New York and Baltimore are recognizing the opportunities in offshore wind and soon could make themselves competitive with New Bedford, he said. New Bedford and its businesses have more to learn about the needs of the industry to make themselves more attractive to developers. And as well positioned as the port is today, it still needs infrastructure improvements, including a new Fairhaven bridge, a freight rail line along the port and a rebuilt north terminal, he said.

The mayor has faith that these challenges can be overcome. New Bedford’s economic decline has limited people’s perceptions of what is possible, he said, and a belief developed that only bad things happen to New Bedford.

“I want to turn that perception on its head,” Mitchell said. “I want people to understand that New Bedford’s future is primarily in its own hands. We certainly need partnerships with higher levels of government and we need luck on our side. But we can compete very effectively, so let’s get on with it,” he said.

“We want to be seen as the city that hustles, that is forward-leaning, cutting edge, where new things are happening all the time.”

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.

 

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.

Matt Morrissey, former Wind Energy Center director, hired by Deepwater

Matthew Morrissey, former economic development director for New Bedford and the first director of the New Bedford Wind Energy Center, worked tirelessly through two legislative sessions to help pass a Massachusetts energy law that would launch a new American offshore wind industry. The announcement of his hiring by offshore wind developer Deepwater Wind — which is completing the first American offshore wind farm off Block Island — is good news for Matt and for the greater New Bedford region.

Last week’s enactment of the new law, which will require state utilities to purchase 1,600 MW of power from wind farms off Martha’s Vineyard, has the potential to help transform the economy of greater New Bedford, along with other industrial ports in Massachusetts.

Most of Matt’s work took place in Boston as he marshaled support for the legislation, which will replace about 10 percent of the state’s power supply with renewable offshore wind. Now he will head up Deepwater Wind’s Massachusetts operations, as the company prepares to compete for a piece of the action against DONG Energy and Offshore MW.

Matt deserves the thanks not only of his hometown but of a lot of other people who will benefit from the development of a new industry that will provide vast quantities of clean, safe and affordable energy and help fight climate change resulting from the burning of coal and oil as we heat our homes and power our industries.

 

Baker signs historic energy bill; offshore wind industry is born

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law a  bill that will lead the state into a greener energy future with offshore wind and hydroelectric power replacing obsolete fossil fuel and nuclear plants.

At a Statehouse signing attended by state and local political leaders who helped lead the fight to pass the legislation, along with environmental and business leaders, Baker said the 1,600 MW of offshore wind power included in the new law would help Massachusetts meet aggressive greenhouse gas emission targets established to curb the effects of climate change linked to the burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil.

“Today marks an historic occasion for the Commonwealth by creating a new industry via offshore wind,” said state Rep. Patricia A. Haddad, D-Somerset and Speaker Pro Tempore. She drafted the original energy bill that included a requirement that public utilities purchase at auction power produced from offshore wind farms located off Martha’s Vineyard. “This legislation also provides us with a solid foundation from which we can further increase our renewable energy sources and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Governor Baker and Secretary Beaton have been  good partners throughout the crafting of this bill, and it has been a pleasure to work with them.”

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito also attended the signing ceremony and said that “renewable energy (is) an important part of the long-term solution to climate changes.”

House Speaker Rober DeLeo said, “The bill represents a smart strategy toward price stability and the promise of a bright future for the Commonwealth.

“Offshore wind will cultivate a new industry in Massachusetts and create jobs for oBaker signsDeLeour citizens.”

 

 

 

 

Gov. Baker to sign energy bill, launch offshore wind industry

Gov. Charlie Baker is expected to sign Massachusetts’ landmark energy bill on Monday, giving Massachusetts a head start in the race to develop a national offshore wind industry.

The bill calls for public utilities to buy 1,600 MW of power generated from offshore wind farms over the coming decade. That’s enough power to replace more than 10 percent of the state’s total energy needs, while removing millions of tons of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and helping to meet the state’s ambitious renewable energy commitment.

Three energy firms — Deepwater Wind, DONG Energy and Offshore MW — will submit bids to sell the power produced by wind farms located off Martha’s Vineyard, and that competition over price should keep energy rates low.

As the industry is built, thousands of new jobs are expected to be created. In Europe, where offshore wind has been providing power for more than two decades, the first 2,000 MW of power produced some 20,000 jobs.

And the U.S. Department of Labor forecasts that the fastest-growing occupation will be wind turbine technician.

That’s good news for port cities like New Bedford — along with Fall River, Quincy and Gloucester — as well as other struggling industrial cities in the Northeast. New Bedford is able to offer marine services, available land and thousands of employees already trained to work on the water, as well as the nations’  only marine commerce terminal built especially for offshore wind.

The median income for an experienced worker in the offshore wind energy field worldwide in 2014 was more than $88,000 a year.

 

OFFSHORE WIND A REALITY FOR MASSACHUSETTS

Massachusetts will jumpstart a new American offshore wind industry.

The state Legislature approved a landmark energy bill, requiring that state utilities purchase 1,600 MW of electricity produced by wind farms located 15 to 25 miles off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. The wind farms will be located in federal waters leased to Deepwater Wind, which is completing the nation’s first wind power plant serving Block Island; DONG Energy, the international leader in offshore wind power generation; and Offshore MW.

New Bedford, home to the only marine commerce terminal in the United States which was built especially to accommodate  the enormous size and heavy weights of offshore wind turbine components, will also be the major seaport nearest to where the wind farms will be built.

A lot of people deserve credit for this important victory for Massachusetts, which will be able to replace obsolete power plants with non-polluting wind and hydroelectric power. Special thanks go to Rep. Pat Haddad, D-Somerset, who championed the fight for offshore wind in the Legislature, and Matthew Morrissey of New Bedford, the executive director of Offshore Wind Massachusetts, who brought together the coalition that ultimately resulted in Sunday night’s passage of the new energy legislation. Special thanks for state Sen. Mark Montigny, D-New Bedford, for pushing an aggressive timeline that will require the purchase of 400 MW of offshore wind power every 24 months for the next decade, as well as Rep. Tony Cabral, who worked side by side with Haddad to get offshore wind built into the House energy bill. The Wind Energy Center’s managing director, Paul Vigeant, has been part of the offshore wind effort for years and deserves enormous credit, as does the leadership of the House and Senate.

Effective local representation and advocacy made all the difference!

Great news for Massachusetts and the New Bedford-Fall River area.