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By 2050, offshore wind will reshape our national economy

Over the next decade, wind farms that will produce 1,600 MW — more than 10 percent of the electrical power Massachusetts’ now uses — will be built off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard.

That is a lot of power, of course, but it is just the beginning. The U.S. departments of Energy and the Interior estimate that 86,000 MW of wind power can be developed off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts by 2050. You’ve probably heard someone say that the waters off Martha’s Vineyard make the Bay State “the Saudi Arabia of wind’ because they produce some of the planet’s strongest and most reliable winds located in close proximity to big coastal population centers that run north from Washington, D.C., to New England.

Harvesting that much wind power — that’s more than 50 times the amount that will produced at the three leased sites off the Vineyard — will depend on a lot of things:

— prices will need to continue to come down, as they are predicted to do over the next decade.  A study by the University of Delaware Special Initiative on Offshore Wind estimated the cost of offshore wind power could fall as much as 55 percent over the next decade due to improvements in technology and increased production efficiency.

— creation of a workforce with the training and skills to assemble, maintain and operate 200 or more turbines that will be built and installed on the three sites leased Bureau of Ocean Management to Deepwater Wind (which recently installed a 30 MW wind farm off Block Island), DONG Energy and Offshore Wind MW.

— a fluid project review and approval process that will enable developers to take best advantage of improved technology and data to reduce costs, ensure safety, and protect the marine environment.

But in the end, Massachusetts, New England and the entire country will benefit from the installation of clean, affordable, renewable wind power that will help us reduce greenhouse gases that have led to warming temperatures and rising sea levels, while creating a new industry that will help transform the economies of industrial port cities like New Bedford.

 

Government, private industry work closely to launch offshore wind

AWEAElected leaders and government administrators get a lot of criticism for erecting obstacles as businesses look to expand and compete in new markets.

Not a lot of that kind of talk at the American Wind Energy Association’s fall conference in Rhode Island, which is happening today and tomorrow. Nearly 600 attendees have heard speaker after speaker discuss the close collaboration among the founders of the new offshore wind energy industry and the federal and state agency leaders and elected leaders in creating a new industry, which is ready to begin producing power at a small wind farm developed by Deepwater Wind off Block Island and which is looking to new markets along the East Coast.

(At right, Bristol Community College’s Anthony Ucci, associate vice president for academic affairs and a designer of the college’s 32-credit wind energy certificate program, was among the nearly 600 people at the AWEA conference’s first day).

U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., has been a leading environmental leader, and he cautioned that the new wind industry faces great competition from a fossil field industry that effectively receives a $200 billion subsidy each year and is fighting hard against renewable sources of energy that threaten that subsidy.

“That’s a pretty big headwind,” said Whitehouse said, urging a fair accounting of the actual cost of energy produced by fossil fuel.

And it was great to hear a New York State official,  John Rhodes, president of that state’s energy research and development authority, speak in support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announced intention to require that half of the Empire State’s power production come from renewable sources, including offshore wind, by 2030.

It was enough to make a citizen of Massachusetts, which in August enacted legislation requiring the state’s utilities to purchase 1,600MW of electricity from wind farms to be built off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, proud and optimistic about the future of power production in the state.

Projects this big require partnership between private industry and federal and state government. That is happening hear, thanks largely to good will and common purpose on all sides to find new, environmentally friendly sources of power.

 

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.

 

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!

Americans of all persuasions turning to renewable energy

The tide is turning in the United States on the subject of climate change, with significant majorities of both Democratic and Republican parties favoring limits on carbon dioxide pollution, establishing carbon taxes to reduce the federal income tax, and supporting research into renewable  sources of energy

In a report issued in March 2016, the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication found that 70 percent of Americans believe that climate change is occurring — an increase of 7 percentage points from the year before.

The issue is most important to Democrats. Climate Wire says that liberals see climate change as more important than “race relations, gun control, terrorism and Supreme Court nominations.”

But Republicans also have come around, with 48 percent now saying they believe climate change is real, up from 28 percent two years ago. That said, it’s a back-burner issue for the GOP while the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee for president, Donald Trump, has said “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.”

While nearly two out of five people in the world have never even heard of climate change, despite having witnessed its effects, three out of four Americans believe the public schools should be teaching about it.

While registered voters are more likely to support a candidate who favors taking actions against climate change, conservative Republicans say they are less likely to vote for a candidate who supports such action.

1,200 MW a start to new offshore wind industry for Massachusetts, New Bedford

Decades from now, residents of Massachusetts may well remember 2016 as the year Massachusetts took the first decisive step into a greener, healthier future.

The Massachusetts Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee on Monday approved a comprehensive energy bill that would require the state’s public utilities to enter long-term contracts with offshore wind power producers to buy 1,200 MW of power. The producers — DONG Energy, Deepwater Wind and Offshore MW — will bid for the right to develop wind farms 15 to 25 miles from Martha’s Vineyard on a huge tract of ocean that is among the most reliably windy places on Earth. The price of that power will be key — both to the bidders and the state’s ratepayers.

The bill is expected to be debated in the House next month while a parallel bill moves through the Senate, after which a final legislation will go to Gov. Charlie Baker for his signature, at which point Massachusetts will become the center of a U.S. offshore wind industry. And New Bedford — with the East Coast’s only marine commerce terminal designed and built to handle the enormous weight and size of wind turbine components and a ready work force and seaport — stands to become the epicenter of a new industry expected to produce thousands of good-paying jobs over the coming decade.

Reaction to the inclusion of 1,200 MW of offshore wind, along with an equal amount of hydro power, was decidedly positive.

“The bill that has emerged represents a good first step to power Massachusetts’ fledgling offshore wind energy industry, while also ensuring the availability and stability of hydroelectric power,” the editorial boards of the Herald News of Fall River and Taunton Gazette wrote in an editorial.

Boston Globe columnist Derrick Z. Jackson urged the Legislature to increase the amount of offshore wind power required under the final bill.

“The case for renewables in Massachusetts is more urgent than ever. The final bill should up the ante and provide for 2,000 megawatts of offshore wind — the level proposed by Representative Patricia Haddad of Somerset last year.”

News stories appeared in newspapers and on web sites around the nation, coinciding with the unanimous vote by the University of Massachusetts Foundation to become the first major public university to divest its holdings in all fossil fuels.

All in all, it has been a heck of a week.