BCC Students see green jobs in their future at South Terminal

By Ariel Wittenberg, Standard-Times
Photo Credits: John Sladewski

Photo Credits: John Sladewski

The construction site at South Terminal on Tuesday was full of hope: Hope that the project would be completed on schedule, hope that the offshore wind industry would jump-start domestically and use the facility, hope that the 10 or so Bristol Community College students touring the facility would one day be employed there.

The students, enrolled in wind power and pre-apprenticeship certificate programs at BCC, were on site at the invitation of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, which owns the terminal, in order to give them a sense of the jobs they could hold once their programs are completed.

“I would love to work here,” said Norman Rebeiro II, who is in the pre-apprenticeship program. Rebeiro said his six kids were his motivation for joining the BCC program. But he said he was interested in South Terminal for another reason: “I think it’s important to have sustainability in our area and our world.”

Rebeiro was like many of the students touring the facility Tuesday who were drawn to the program not just by the need for a bigger paycheck, but also because they see clean energy, and therefore offshore wind, as an important part of the region’s economic and environmental future.

John Carlisle said he was fascinated by the first-hand view of how the terminal was being put together and hoped to work there after he completes his wind power certificate.

“This offshore wind is supposed to be a growing industry,” he said. “It’s good to get into it now so I’m ahead of the future, and also so we have something sustainable to show the next generation.”

Accompanying the group was Chris DiGregario, who had applied to the BCC pre-apprenticeship program earlier in the day. A career counselor had heard he was interested in solar panels and suggested he go on the tour to learn more about wind power instead.

“I mean, anyone can learn how to slap some lights up on a house and make them turn on,” he said. “I want to go green. If everyone became green the world would be a much better place.”

Both BCC certificate programs are free to students, sponsored by a grant from MassCEC, which has come under fire by city minority groups for not having enough local or minority hires at South Terminal.

As the students toured the facility Tuesday, students were greeted by terminal workers, some of whom were from the city, who gave the students advice on future careers.

Derrick Johnson, the labor foreman, told them how he fell in love with being a laborer after going to school for architecture.

“College isn’t for everyone, but you have to have some kind of skill,” he said. “Being a laborer is hard work, it’s grunt work, but it’s honest and it’s profitable work, too.”

Dan Clark, an apprentice with the pile drivers union, told the students how much he had learned being on the job at South Terminal and how much he appreciated the job’s larger mission.

“When this job is done, I just hope I get a chance to go work on the windmill projects,” he said. “If that offer came around I’d take it in an instant.”

Original Story: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20140813/NEWS/408130374/1011/TOWN10

Moving Forward on Offshore Wind in New Bedford: If You Build It, Clean Energy Will Come

By Chris Halfnight, NRDC

Posted August 11, 2014

A short walk from the famous Whalemen’s Chapel of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, offshore wind power is getting a major push. With construction of a new, $100-million marine commerce terminal well underway in New Bedford, Massachusetts, the city is on track to become a central hub for the emerging offshore wind industry in the United States – good news for the local economy, wind developers, and clean energy advocates alike. Recently, I had a chance to tour the site for this new marine commerce terminal and learn more about its goals and prospects. I’m grateful to Apex Companies’ Project Manager Dario Quintana for showing me around, and to Bill White and Matt Kakley at the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center for arranging the visit.

Called the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal, the new port is the first of its kind in North America, specifically designed with the size and heavy capacity necessary to be a major staging ground for assembling and deploying large offshore wind turbines along the Atlantic coast. Developed by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center – a key force behind the state’s nation-leading support for clean energy policies – the 28-acre terminal sits just north of New Bedford harbor’s hurricane barrier. In addition to handling offshore wind, the terminal is also designed to manage other forms of bulk, container, and large specialty marine cargo.

Governor Deval Patrick broke ground on the project in the spring of 2013. On my recent visit, the future terminal was beginning to take shape: over the past year, the project team has filled and built much of the dock’s foundation and remediated contaminated soils in the harbor, which is a Superfund site. Construction is set to finish this coming December, with completion of a newly dredged, 30-foot-deep shipping lane to accommodate the large-scale vessels used in assembling and installing offshore wind turbines.

This impressive new terminal is helping revitalize New Bedford, a city with 350 years of maritime history and once the world’s preeminent whaling port. It’s also heralding the imminent rise of a new and robust American industry: offshore wind power, which the Department of Energy estimates could create by 2030 more than 43,000 permanent jobs, along with 1.1 million job-years in manufacturing and installation.

Indeed, the terminal is already bringing significant benefits to the local economy: about 40% of the project’s 120 jobs have gone to South Coast residents, the terminal’s general contractor is New Bedford-based Cashman-Weeks NB, and construction has relied on supplies and services from at least ten local businesses – a huge boon for a city that has suffered high unemployment in recent years.

New Bedford is well positioned to help Massachusetts capture substantial first-mover benefits from the emerging offshore wind industry, including a wealth of local jobs and economic development – a head start on building a skilled workforce that may soon be in high demand along the east coast. The potential windfall for first-movers is enormous, with the federal government having already designated more than 1.5 million acres off the Atlantic coast for wind energy development – a total area that could feasibly provide over 16,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity capacity and could power more than 5 million homes. The New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal is located and engineered to be able to handle the staging, assembly, and deployment for many of these potential projects. One of these developments – the nearby Cape Wind offshore wind project – has cleared all of its regulatory hurdles and is set to begin construction in the next year.

New projects in the area are also on the way: last September, Deepwater Wind secured the nation’s first competitive lease in federal waters off Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The company plans to develop approximately 1000 megawatts of generating capacity in the site, which it estimates would power 350,000 homes and displace more than 1.7 million tons of carbon dioxide annually – equivalent to removing four million cars from our roads. And, on the same day as my visit, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management hosted a public meeting in New Bedford to advance the leasing process for another wind energy area 12 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard.

Offshore wind power – with huge potential capacity, no fuel costs, and no air pollution – is set to become a central pillar in our clean energy future. Europe leads the way on offshore wind, with 73 offshore wind projects already producing carbon-free electricity. But momentum is building here in the United States, and continued policy and infrastructure investment will finally bring this enormous clean energy source online. Properly designed and well-sited offshore wind power makes good sense for local and national economies and the environment alike. Massachusetts and New Bedford are smart to invest now in the clean energy future.

Original Story: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/kkennedy/moving_forward_on_offshore_win.html

Embryonic No More: U.S. Offshore Wind Industry Gaining Momentum

By Jesse Broehl & Michael Ernst

Wednesday August 06 2014

embryonic no moreAt long last, the U.S. offshore wind industry is showing real progress toward putting steel in the water. The offshore sector is progressing not only with key projects like Cape Wind and the Block Island wind farm, but also more broadly as the federal government provides new grants and works with coastal states to offer large leases for future offshore development.

As of the end of July, the developer behind the 468 MW Cape Wind project had secured close to two-thirds of the approximately $2.5 billion needed for the wind farm, to be located off the coast of Cape Cod, Mass. In addition, the developer sold more than 77% of the projected output (363 MW) through stable, 15-year power purchase agreements (PPAs) at $0.187/kWh plus inflation.

Deepwater Wind’s more modest 30 MW wind plant, located off the Rhode Island coast, has its entire output secured with a 15-year PPA at $0.244/kWh. It also has preliminary contracts for turbines from Alstom and an installation vessel from Fred Olsen Windcarrier, and continues to move through final regulatory hurdles, including receiving state approvals for its transmission system.

Construction of both projects is planned to commence in 2015.

This year saw the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) offshore wind demonstration projects secure substantial funding. Fisherman’s Energy landed two grants of $6.7 million for final engineering and $40 million for construction of a 25 MW wind plant off Atlantic City, N.J. – although the project is mired in a dispute with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, which administers an important offshore wind renewable energy credit program that may be necessary to obtain financing for construction of the project. Dominion Virginia Power secured a similar rate of $46.7 million for two 6 MW turbines to be installed off Virginia Beach, Va., on novel twisted jacket foundations derived from the offshore oil industry. 

After the storm
Another unusual project, proposed by Principle Power and selected for $46.7 million in DOE grants, is slated to have five 6 MW direct-drive turbines on semi-submersible floating foundations assembled near shore and towed to depths of around 1,000 feet off the Oregon coast. The company’s previous partnership with big Portuguese developer EDP saw a 2 MW Vestas turbine successfully deployed off Portugal’s coast on a floating platform, not long before a major storm brought waves over 60 feet high. The turbine survived, demonstrating that the deepwater development has a real chance at success and that the U.S. West Coast, with its much deeper sea floor, could also accommodate offshore wind.

The pipeline potential being built up through offshore lease signings through a program administered by the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is also an exciting development. Off the coast of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, Deepwater Wind has agreed to pay $3.8 million to develop in an area that could support 3.4 GW of wind. Off the Virginia coast, Dominion won an auction to invest $1.6 million in the phased development of over 2 GW. In Maryland, two lease sites will be auctioned in August that could support up to 2.3 GW. Further auctions for a total of nearly 10 GW of offshore wind capacity have been announced by BOEM for Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York in the coming year. 

This obvious progress in U.S. offshore wind is garnering headlines beyond the trade presses because offshore wind is still novel in the country. But the revived onshore market is where substantial capacity is again being deployed, despite the boom-and-bust cycles caused by on-and-off-again tax policies. 

The production tax credit (PTC) and investment tax credit (ITC) are currently expired, yet the wind market is booming, with nearly 100 projects totaling as much as 13 GW in various stages of construction in over 20 states. This is the result of the PTC being extended on Jan. 1, 2013, for one year and special safe-harbor guidance from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The guidance allows wind plants that began construction during the extended PTC to qualify, as long as developers either began construction in 2013 – the so-called “physical work test” – or spent at least 5% of the project capital costs that year.

The owners of Cape Wind and the Deepwater Wind Block Island projects have announced compliance with the 5% test for the ITC. Development of more offshore projects will depend on the extension of the ITC and state incentives such as the ocean renewable energy credits or long-term contracts. Onshore projects that meet the physical or 5% test then have two years to come online in order to qualify for the PTC or ITC.
In an ideal scenario, the 13 GW of construction reportedly under way would come online by the end of the two-year window ending Dec. 31, 2015. 

In Navigant’s World Market Update 2013, the report forecasts that around 12 GW of the 13 GW will come online, split roughly between 2014 and 2015. A few items of uncertainty surround this build cycle. More than 9 GW of PPAs have been signed during 2013 and through the first quarter of this year. PPAs in almost all cases are essential for wind plants in the U.S. to secure financing. 

Extending the wind cycle

That’s not to say a further 3 GW to 4 GW of PPAs cannot be signed for this build cycle, but time is running out for turbine purchases that would lead to installation by the end of 2015. Some developers that started construction but did not put down payments on turbines by the end of 2013 may ultimately not secure PPAs, turbines or financing, nor qualify under the IRS safe-harbor stipulations during this build cycle for certain projects. 

Even if just over 9 GW is commissioned between 2014 and 2015, that still represents a healthy baseline of wind installation. But it shows again the inefficiency of the U.S. system of stop-start development cycles, driven by a Congress that has failed to provide the wind industry with long-term policy stability. The wind industry and its stakeholders are lobbying fiercely for an extension of the credits now, but the more likely scenario for passage is within a broader tax extenders package that stands a better chance of passing in the lame-duck Congressional session after the November elections. 

One notable upside to the possible passage of the wind tax credits at the end of the year covering 2015 is that they will most likely include the same IRS safe-harbor and start-construction stipulations, which would effectively extend out a two-year build cycle from the end of 2015 into 2016 and 2017. With projects already under way for 2014 and 2015, that could potentially create a four-year build cycle beginning with this year’s initial recovery and ending in 2017.

Original Story: http://www.nawindpower.com/e107_plugins/content/content.php?content.13273

Cape Wind: An obvious choice for a younger generation

By Rae-Taylor Burns

August 19, 2014

Cape Wind, a project aiming to construct 130 wind turbines in Horseshoe Shoals of Nantucket Sound, has been met with well-funded resistance since the project’s public debut in 2001. Though groups who oppose the project argue in defense of pristine seaside views, a long term perspective proves that Cape Wind is a necessary step in protecting the future of a younger generation, who may not yet own homes on the southern coast of Cape Cod.

The wind farm would produce up to 468 megawatts and on average provide 75% of the electricity required by Cape Cod. Though European countries like Denmark and the UK have both been using offshore wind power for years, Cape Wind would be the first offshore wind farm in the States. Cape Wind in particular would be beneficial because of the high wind speeds and corresponding energy production that occur during times of peak energy consumption, allowing the farm to reach a maximum efficiency.

In an era of rising gas prices, energy independence has become a huge focus for the United States. Foreign oil and gas have long been contentious and problematic aspects of America’s energy, and with the recent rise in the use of American natural gas, it has been estimated that the country could be energy independent by 2020. However, with drilling for natural gas creates issues of water and air contamination. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking for gas has caused millions of wells to go bad throughout the country, forcing people to drink bottled water, and towns to provide town water. (This type of well water contamination story is close to home for Cape Codders too, with Eastham having been forced to switch to town water this year, due to contamination likely stemming from the town’s landfill). Thus, even though natural gas could lead the country to energy independence, it is accompanied by serious problems. The expansion of energy sources like wind and solar power could be extremely important in achieving energy independence in a clean and healthy way.

Human use of fossil fuels is causing the planet as we know it to change. Atmospheric carbon levels are the highest in human history, Arctic ice is melting at a rate of 3 percent per decade, and the sea level at Woods Hole is rising 3 millimeters per year. Cape Wind and projects like it are essential for Earth’s preservation. This opportunity to take advantage of renewable energy allows us to choose between business as usual and an investment in the future; the choice seems obvious to me.

Original Story: http://www.capecodtoday.com/article/2014/08/19/26641-cape-wind-obvious-choice-younger-generation

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.


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