Your View: While whaler makes historic visit, New Bedford’s new energy future brightens

The homecoming of the whale ship Charles W. Morgan has revived New Bedford’s storied past as “The City that Lit the World,” while also highlighting the promise — and remaining challenges — of New Bedford’s energy future.

Today, the city is positioned to become the center of the emerging offshore wind industry in America. As the Morgan sat beside a New Bedford pier for the first time in 73 years, the U.S. Department of Energy delivered a history-making boost to offshore wind. Last Tuesday, it awarded a conditional commitment for a $150 million loan guarantee to the Cape Wind offshore wind farm project.

The federal loan guarantee is a substantial vote of confidence for a project that is piling them up these days. Over the last several months, we have seen Cape Wind win definitive legal victories as well as important financing commitments.

Cape Wind’s string of successes is hurtling the project toward launching early next year, using the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal — the nation’s first terminal built for the offshore wind sector. Construction of that terminal is right on track, thanks to the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center.

The significance of the federal loan guarantee extends well beyond its benefits to Cape Wind, signaling to the global offshore wind market that the United States’s commitment to the industry is more than just words.

As powerful as the momentum for offshore wind is, however, work remains to ensure that the sector can fulfill its promise of jobs and economic development for not only New Bedford, but for the SouthCoast region and the commonwealth as a whole.

Congress should follow the lead of the Department of Energy and renew the critically important Investment Tax Credit, a provision supported by Democrats and Republicans and one that will spur clean energy production and green job creation across the country.

At the state level, a major energy bill is in the Massachusetts Legislature that will determine the future of offshore wind in the commonwealth. As Boston Globe columnist Derrick Z. Jackson reported Wednesday, the current version of the “Act Relative to Clean Energy Resources” would crowd out the Massachusetts offshore wind industry with a massive influx of Canadian hydropower.

If this bill passes as currently written, the offshore wind industry will still emerge across America, but the jobs and investment will go to New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and others states — not Massachusetts. Through the leadership of Sen. Mark Montigny, Rep. Tony Cabral and regional partners such as Speaker Pro Tempore Patricia Haddad, who all appreciate the need for local job creation, we are strongly advocating for an amendment to the bill. It would enable a modest 200 megawatts per year for four years of offshore wind energy to be developed in Massachusetts over the next four years — creating jobs here at home, not out of state.

Together, these pieces of legislation are essential to the widespread development of the offshore wind industry and for Massachusetts. New Bedford will be the first harbor in the nation to welcome offshore wind components when the Cape Wind project gets underway in 2015. With continued support from the Obama and Patrick administrations and the state legislative leadership, as well as with the leadership of New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell, we anticipate that Cape Wind will be the first of many projects to create jobs for our residents and value for our businesses.

That’s great news for economic development, clean energy production and energy diversity.

And there is no better holiday weekend to be advocating for new jobs creation in Massachusetts’ and America’s energy independence.

Original story: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20140706/OPINION/407060305/-1/opinion02

 

New Bedford Gets Ready for Boost from Cape Wind Jobs

By Mark Curtis

July 15, 2014

On the water’s off New Bedford, there is hope for another shot in the arm for the local economy.

The Mayor and other dignitaries toured the harbor, updating construction of the new Marine Commerce Terminal.

The facility will be the pre–construction and departure point for off–shore turbine in the Cape Wind project.

That could mean lots of new jobs.

“As we talk with the contractors and see what their manning schedules are going to be, and see what their work schedules are going to be. But we are looking at several hundred for each construction season,” said Gerard Dhooge, of the Maritime Port Council of New England.

The 130 wind turbines and offshore construction could take at least two or three years.

ABC6 Chief Political Reporter said, “This Marine Commercial Terminal project has been on the fast track. Ground was broken here in April o 2013. It is set to be complete this December.”

Also, a leading environmental group has blessed the off–shore wind project, even though the energy produced may be more expensive at first.

“I think there are a lot of ways to look at the cost. First this is new technology and as we have seen with the onshore wind industry and solar industry, costs come down as deployment scales up,” said Catherine Bowers of the National Wildlife Federation.

Leaders are optimistic, the overall New Bedford economy will improve.

“We can still be the leader in commercial fishing and processing, while we become the birthplace of offshore wind. We have a growing cargo sector right now,” said New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell.

The long term goal is to boost the local standard of living, while lowering the cost of energy.

 

Original story: http://ww.abc6.com/story/25991427/new-bedford-gets-ready-for-boost-from-cape-wind-jobs

Report: New Bedford’s South Terminal is the wind beneath state’s wings

By Ariel Wittenberg

July 11, 2014

Massachusetts and Rhode Island are “leading the way” for offshore wind in the United States, according to a report released Thursday by the National Wildlife Federation.

“By every measure, Massachusetts and Rhode Island are clearly leading America’s pursuit of offshore wind power,” according to the report. “Both states have shown considerable leadership to date in spurring offshore wind development — efforts which are poised to pay off as the nation’s first projects begin construction off their shores in the coming year.”

The report, which outlines efforts to promote offshore wind in every state on the Atlantic Coast, cites New Bedford’s South Terminal as one reason why Massachusetts is at the head of the pack. It lists South Terminal as one of three “considerable investments” by the state in offshore wind development. The other two are the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s Wind Technology Testing Center in Charlestown and stakeholder engagement and data collection efforts led by MassCEC.

“Massachusetts has blazed the trail in America’s pursuit of offshore wind power,” according to the report.

On Thursday, New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell said the construction of South Terminal is a “critical investment” for the city by the state.

“We look to the future of the offshore wind industry here,” Mitchell said. “We believe the industry holds the potential to enable us to rebuild the economic base of greater New Bedford.”

But Mitchell said the city is concerned about a bill currently before the state Legislature that would let hydropower generated in dams count as “renewable” energy for utilities needing to purchase long-term contracts with renewable resources.

“Our view is that the bill will lead to power exclusively produced by Canadian (dams),” Mitchell said. “We want the bill amended to help create a pipeline of offshore wind activity in years to come.”

Catherine Bowes, senior manager for climate and energy from the National Wildlife Federation, agreed, saying that while federal initiatives to help offshore wind are important, state help is critical.

“Federal tax incentives alone do not get projects built,” she said. “Projects need two things to be built: offshore leases and contracts to sell the power they produce. Advancing those contracts is what is at the hands of the state, and that’s a critical next step for New England leaders.”

Massachusetts and Rhode Island are in a race to see which will be home to the first offshore wind farm in the country. In Rhode Island, Deepwater Wind has plans to develop a five-turbine farm off the coast of Block Island. In Massachusetts, Cape Wind is on track to begin construction of its 130-turbine wind farm for Nantucket Sound.

Other wind projects are in the works offshore Massachusetts and Rhode Island as well.

Last year, a 164,000-acre area of ocean southwest of Martha’s Vineyard was auctioned for $3.8 million to Deepwater Wind. In June, the federal government said it was moving ahead with plans to auction another area located 12 miles off of the Vineyard that covers 742,000 acres.

In addition to outlining states’ progress in supporting offshore wind, the NWF report also emphasizes the benefits of generating energy offshore. According to the report, offshore wind could power 5 million average American households with pollution-free power produced at times when energy is most in demand. Looking to Europe as an example, NWF writes that an American offshore wind industry will also “spur the creation of good-paying jobs”

Original story: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20140711/NEWS/407110329/-1/NEWS

SouthCoast legislators stress potential benefits of wind power for region

By Michael Holtzman

July 11, 2014

The state’s renewable energy requirements need to include wind power opportunities as massive coal plants like Brayton Point Power Station shut down.

Wind power is a resource that can be tapped into within miles of this region’s coast.

That’s the message SouthCoast political, business and environmental leaders are making as they put on a full-court press to amend energy legislation that could be enacted this month.

A House clean energy bill adds delivery timetables and addresses the state’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Massachusetts by 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

As written, the bill specifically defines clean energy generation as hydroelectric power production.

By Oct. 1, Massachusetts power distribution companies must jointly solicit clean-energy developers to deliver up to 18.9 million megawatt hours of electricity. That coverts to 2,400 megawatts or 2.4 gigawatts, industry officials said. That’s enough to power about 750,000 homes.

The bill is pending before the House Ways and Means Committee after the Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee recommended it, reported state Rep. John Keenan, D-Salem.

“There’s a wonderful opportunity for everyone to have a piece of the energy bill that makes a lot of sense,” said Matthew Morrissey, New Bedford Wind Energy Center managing director.

In addition to the 2.4 gigawatts targeted for hydroelectric power, which would be transmitted from Canada, Morrissey said wind energy advocates will submit an amendment to this clean energy bill.

Their efforts coincided with a widely supported National Wildlife Federation report issued Thursday that said wind energy generated off New England’s coast could produce more than 8,000 megawatts — enough to power about 2.5 million homes.

The draft legislation Morrissey supplied asks that — in addition to required hydro procurements — distribution companies would need to “conduct four joint solicitations for proposals from offshore wind energy developers.”

The competitive bid process would be for 200 megawatts a year staggered over four years to total 800 megawatts, enough to provide electricity for about 250,000 homes.

“It is a modest size,” said Morrissey, New Bedford’s former economic development director. This week, he met at the Statehouse with the SouthCoast legislative delegation, including Rep. Patricia Haddad, D-Somerset.

Like other leaders, he noted the clean energy that wind power would bring. He also emphasized job opportunities that could benefit Massachusetts.

Haddad said her regional colleagues unanimously support the amended version to add specific wind-development requirements. Without the amendment, the bill features just a few sentences at the end stating that agencies “shall study how to best advance the development of (off-shore) wind generation opportunities …”

 

Original story: http://www.heraldnews.com/article/20140711/NEWS/140719212/?Start=2

Our View: Tapping Massachusetts’ offshore wind potential

By Herald News Editorial Board

July 15, 2015

As New England grapples with a changing energy production landscape, we’re left wondering how we will power our region and its economy. But rather than struggling against powerful economic headwinds beyond our control, we actually have the power to harness the winds of change to our advantage.

Just off the SouthCoast, south of Martha’s Vineyard, lies some of the world’s most productive offshore wind energy potential. Now state and local officials, led by New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell and House Speaker Pro-Tempore Patricia Haddad, D-Somerset, want to expedite the potential for turning this renewable energy resource into a reality.

For years, New Bedford has been at the forefront of unlocking the economic benefits of offshore wind energy with its Marine Commerce Terminal and Wind Energy Center, which will become the nation’s first offshore wind terminal.

Now Haddad — long a supporter of coal-fired power due to Somerset’s reliance on the power plant industry — has become a wind power convert. Due to a combination of market and regulatory forces, it’s become clear that the days of coal-fired power plants are numbered. Seeing the benefit that offshore wind power can offer to Somerset, the SouthCoast and the commonwealth, Haddad has become a powerful supporter of offshore wind energy development to help fill the energy and economic gap.

Haddad is sponsoring an amendment to a renewable energy bill that would require Massachusetts utility companies to purchase 800 megawatts of offshore wind to add to its energy portfolio by 2020. The existing bill requires the utility companies to purchase 2.4 gigawatts of hydroelectric power — mainly produced in Canada — between now and 2020.

Haddad’s amendment would diversify that renewable energy requirement to include wind power as well.

“If we don’t do this, it sends a chilling effect to anyone looking to invest (in wind power),” Haddad told the Editorial Board on Monday. Why should Massachusetts exclusively incentivize hydroelectric power and export all the jobs and economic development associated with the renewable energy requirement to Canada? And, as Haddad pointed out, hydropower alone “puts way too many eggs in one basket.”

While New Bedford is at the forefront of the offshore wind power effort, Somerset and Bristol County also stand to benefit greatly. Brayton Point’s expected closure would have a devastating effect on our region, both in terms of the lost jobs and associated economic activity and loss to Somerset’s tax base — not to mention the loss of electricity going to the grid. Offshore wind energy could offset that loss and create even more economic activity and jobs across the SouthCoast.

Haddad sees the existing energy transmission infrastructure at Brayton Point, as well as the shuttered Montaup Power Plant, as the potential linchpin in delivering offshore wind energy into the electric grid. So Haddad is using her legislative influence to push the wind power requirement forward.

In fact, she said, “If it isn’t put into the bill, it doesn’t make sense to go forward” with the hydropower requirement. Mitchell agreed, saying the bill is “better off dead” without the offshore wind energy component.

Haddad and Mitchell present a convincing argument for tapping our region’s offshore wind power to fuel our economy. While the cost of producing and delivering offshore wind power is more expensive in the research and development stage, it would be offset by increased jobs and economic development in our own backyard.

Furthermore, as Haddad said, New England is at “the end of the pipeline” for every other type of energy. It only makes sense that if we are at “the beginning of the pipeline” of offshore wind energy production, it will pay big dividends in the long term to insulate our region from energy price spikes beyond our control.

With such vast offshore wind energy potential just off our coastline and the existing infrastructure to deliver this power to the electric grid, Massachusetts would be foolish to leave this “homegrown” energy resource blowing in the wind any longer.

Haddad’s amendment represents the right incentive for offshore wind development at the right time. This legislation deserves the support of the Legislature and Gov. Deval Patrick.

 

Original story: http://www.heraldnews.com/article/20140714/OPINION/140718274/0/SEARCH/?Start=2

Wind power must be part of energy bill

By Standard Times Editorial Board

July 13, 2014

As a report issued by the National Wildlife Federation declared last week, Rhode Island and Massachusetts “by every measure” are leading the way for the nation in developing a commercial offshore wind industry that will help meet New England’s needs as nuclear and fossil fuel power plants are shut down.

Soon, the Brayton Point Power Plant — once New England’s largest coal-fired plant — in Somerset will close, joining Vermont Yankee and Salem Harbor. With no new nuclear plants in development and with the entire region looking to meet an ambitious reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, Massachusetts wisely has sought to diversify its energy sources; and greater New Bedford is at the forefront of both the new wind and solar generation industries. Indeed, if Massachusetts leads the nation, it is entirely accurate to say that New Bedford leads Massachusetts.

This is a critical time for the state and the city.

The Patrick administration is spending $100 million on New Bedford’s South Terminal to build not only the city’s but the state’s capacity to take advantage of the brand new offshore wind industry and to meet the objectives of building 2,000 megawatts of new wind power, along with 1,600 megawatts of solar power by 2020.

On top of that, legislation filed in the House of Representatives, HB4187, which has not yet been approved, requires that Massachusetts utilities enter long-term contracts (20 or 25 years) to purchase 2,400 megawatts of hydropower produced by dams in Canada and distributed across the border in New England.

It’s not an altogether terrible bill because it would help the state meet the greenhouse gas reduction targets established in the state’s 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act.

However, it won’t produce new jobs in Massachusetts as the offshore wind energy industries will, and passage of the bill in its current form would conceivably hurt this home-grown, job-producing industry which will come online in the near future.

The Wind Energy Center in New Bedford and its legislative supporters are pushing modified legislation that would require utilities like NStar and National Grid to sign long-term agreements to also purchase 800 megawatts over four years from the companies that will produce wind off the Massachusetts and Rhode Island coasts.

Why is that important?

For one, that is enough electricity to power about 500,000 homes, according to the Wind Energy Center’s Matthew Morrissey.

It is also enough to get this new industry off the ground.

Why?

Because the single most vital element for companies considering investing hundreds of millions of dollars in building a new wind industry is signed agreements for the purchase of that power. They need to be able to count on sufficient revenues to make their investments worthwhile.

The payoff?

The Department of Energy estimates that the offshore wind industry will create 43,000 new jobs over the next 15 years off the East Coast. Those jobs and the economic fuel that this new industry will provide promises an economic rebirth for New Bedford and a new growth industry for the state as a whole.

Further, the long-term power purchase agreements will allow the region to take best advantage of the declining costs of wind-based power production and result in significant long-term savings on customers’ electric bills.

We are not against an agreement between the region’s utilities and Canadian hydroelectric producers so long as that agreement does not in any way limit the potential of our homegrown solar and offshore wind industries,

Those new industries have the power to transform our entire region and jump-start a manufacturing sector that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and usher in a new era of growth and prosperity for New Bedford and for Massachusetts.

Original story: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20140713/OPINION/407130301/0/SEARCH