By Eric Bosco
July 10. 2016 8:26PM
NEW BEDFORD — Eversource’s plans to move operations from the waterfront to the New Bedford Business Park will allow consolidation of the energy provider’s operations and also give the city a chance to develop the waterfront property electric companies have occupied for more than a century, officials said.
“This is great news,” Mayor Jon Mitchell said of the move. “I’m pleased that they are staying in New Bedford, this business park site will suit their operations well and the jobs and tax revenues stay in the city.”
The city has been working with Eversource and Sprague Energy, which owns about half of Eversource’s waterfront location, for the past year to develop the waterfront location when Eversource relocates in 2017.
“This is a generational opportunity,” said Derek Santos, executive director of the New Bedford Economic Development Council. “That site’s never been open before and I’m really excited to get to work on looking for a solution that makes sense to advance the growth of the New Bedford waterfront.”
Eversource currently operates out of six buildings along the waterfront, according to the company’s media relations manager Michael Durand. The new location in the business park will be more than 200,000 square feet — compared to the combined 115,000 square feet of the current buildings — and house all 180 employees and 170 company vehicles in addition to a repair garage.
“One of the biggest benefits is being able to consolidate the operations that currently take place in multiple buildings into one building that will be completely renovated to meet our needs,” Durand said, adding that the company expects to move into the site in the first six months of 2017.
The company has a management operations building and repair garage in West Wareham that will not be impacted by the New Bedford relocation, Durand said.
Mitchell said the waterfront property has been occupied by electrical companies since the 1870’s and said the city will move into the next phase of planning for the re-use of the site this summer. And while the uses of the site are flexible, Mitchell said the northern portion of the site should align with development in the downtown area and the southern portion should remain industrial.
For Eversource, the business park location is also closer to both Routes 140 and I-195 and Durand highlighted the proximity to the highways as a key benefit of the relocation.
“As the area’s electric provider, it’s probably actually a good thing to be further from the waterfront, especially in the event of a coastal storm,” Durand said.