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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.

 

Deepwater Wind will build off Long Island

The US offshore wind industry has been launched.

Deepwater Wind, which is completing the first US project off the coast of Block Island, has reached agreement with the Long Island Power Authority to build a 15-torbine (90MW) offshore wind farm east of Montauk Point. That’s near both the Block Island project and an additional tract of ocean that Deepwater has leased off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. The LIPA board is expected to approve the agreement Monday.

Deepwater is one of three developers looking to build more than 10 times that amount of wind power in federal waters south of the Vineyard off the coast of Massachusetts. How much — likely somewhere between 1,200 and 2,000 MW, will be determined by the final shape of an energy bill expected to be approved by the Legislature after differences between House and Senate versions are ironed out.

Offshore energy offers a vast untapped resource for the United States, with the US Department of Energy estimating that a total of 600 GW of offshore wind power — about six times the amount of power the nation now uses — can be captured off both coasts.

Massachusetts charting new course on clean energy

sailing-windgenerators-webBetween now and the end of July, Massachusetts will make history

The House of Representatives and the state Senate will appoint members to a conference committee that will recommend a final bill that will shape the Commonwealth’s energy policy for decades. The bill must be passed by the end of the current legislative session July 31 before going to Gov. Charlie Baker for his signature.

The conference committee will reconcile differences between the two bodies over how much offshore wind power public utilities will be required to buy, as well as determine the role of other green energy sources like solar and hydro in the state’s energy portfolio.

In addition, the bill reflects growing concern about natural gas, which already accounts for about 63 percent of the state’s power. A study by the office of Attorney General Maura Healey last fall found that no new pipelines are necessary and that green energy offered a better, more affordable option in the future. One provision in the Senate’s version would forbid the utilities charging ratepayers for the up-front costs of new gas pipelines.

The local legislative delegation, led by state Rep. Pat Haddad worked effectively for two years to ensure that offshore wind would play a central role in Massachusetts’ energy future. Just a little more work to be done!

US already among world leaders in wind power

The offshore wind industry is in its infancy in the United States, but the United States already already has installed enough land-based wind farms to power 19 million homes.

And the U.S. Department of Energy says wind will supply 10 percent of the country’s electricity by 2020, 20 percent by 2030 and 35 percent by 2050.

 A typical wind turbine has more than 8,000 components, and those pieces are manufactured in 500 plants in 43 U.S. states, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

Learn what that might mean for Massachusetts, which will be the home of the first industrial-scale offshore wind farm in the USW. Read New Bedford Wind Energy Center Director Paul Vigeant’s take on the future of wind here.

Sens. Markey, Whiteside give offshore wind a boost

Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey made good on his promise to push to extend the 30-percent investment tax credit for the new US offshore wind industry.

Markey joined fellow Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse in filing the Offshore Wind Incentives for New Development (WIND) Act, which would extend the tax break for offshore wind through 2025. Because offshore wind is a new industry and several projects in Massachusetts, New York and other East Coast states await legislative and/or regulatory approval, wind farm developers otherwise would not be able to take advantage of the investment tax credit, which is set to expire in 2019. The tax credit should help keep electricity rates for businesses and homeowners down by lowering initial developer

European Wind Farm Photo Courtesy: Siemens and Cape Wind

European Wind Farm Photo Courtesy: Siemens and Cape Wind

costs.

Great work by Sens. Markey and Whiteside. Building out a new industry that will be such a significant gain in the effort to build new sources of clean, renewable and affordable energy.