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Deepwater Wind’s New Bedford office opens Friday

Deepwater Wind, the successful developer of the first US offshore wind farm, will officially open an office in New Bedford on Friday.

The company is opening southeastern Massachusetts headquarters on the top floor of the historic Standard-Times building, 555 Pleasant St. Deepwater Wind’s Massachusetts vice president, Matthew Morrissey, said the company expects New Bedford — home to the nation’s only marine commerce terminal designed specifically to handle the enormous weight of wind turbine components — to play a central role in the buildout of the new offshore wind industry.

It’s been a busy period for the company. In addition to completing its Block Island project in 2016, Deepater Wind recently completed an agreement with a New York utility to build a 90 MW project off Long Island. It also plans to develop another wind project off Rhode Island and expects to be one of the bidders on a 400MW project that will be bid this spring off Massachusetts — part of a new energy law that requires Massachusetts utilities to purchase 1,600MW of power over the next decade.

 

Morrissey, Haddad honored for work on behalf of offshore wind

The selection of Deepwater Wind Vice President Matthew Morrissey and state Rep. Patricia Haddad, D-Somerset, as SouthCoast Man and Woman of the Year is recognition not only of the  duo’s great work on offshore wind, but also of the collaborative and consistent approach needed to build the new industry.

Morrissey and Haddad deserve great credit for their leadership and years worth of determination to persuade the Massachusetts Legislature, Gov. Charlie Baker, a swarm of environmental groups and regulators, and regional business interests that the state and region could be the launching point for a new industry that would help fight global warming and create vast economic opportunities.

But both Morrissey and Haddad would be the first to admit that it took a concerted effort from the entire legislative delegation, New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell and Economic Development Director Derek Santos, the Port of New Bedford, local colleges and universities, and others to win passage of a new state law requiring Massachusetts’ utilities to purchase 1,600 MW of offshore wind power.

And it will take similar commitment to make sure that the industry, which will start to build out over the next decade, provides the benefits that we all seek. The interests of commercial fishermen, organized labor, marine mammals, coastal communities and business and residential power users all will need to be protected.

In the meantime, we applaud The Standard-Times’ selection of Morrissey and Haddad, and we congratulate the pair for accomplishing something many people would have called impossible not long ago.

Offshore wind will help propel resurgent New Bedford

There’s a good interview with Mayor Jon Mitchell in CommonWealth magazine’s fall issue about the resurgence of New Bedford, and offshore wind was a big part of the conversation.

Given that many in Massachusetts equate offshore wind with the mothballed Cape Wind project, the focus by CommonWealth, an influential issue-centered publication of the public policy think tank MassINC, on offshore wind as part of the New Bedford turnaround story constitutes a recognition that the industry has become an important piece of the Massachusetts energy and economic development future.

Gov. Charlie Baker in August signed an energy bill into law that will require public utilities over the next decade to buy 1,600 MW of power — that’s about 10 percent of the state’s entire use — from offshore wind farms being built 15 to 25 miles off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. And the three energy development firms that will bid to supply that power in a series of auctions that will award contracts based on lowest cost for power produced have agreed to use the $113 million New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal to serve the new industry. Meanwhile, Bristol Community College’s vice president for workforce development, Paul Vigeant (who also serves as director of the New Bedford Wind Energy Center), will work with experts at UMass Dartmouth and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy to assess workforce needs and assets for the new industry.

Mayor Mitchell started out like a lot of people, with the sense that the offshore wind industry was Cape Wind and nothing else. But like others, he has learned about offshore wind and recognizes its great potential for New England, for Massachusetts…and for New Bedford. Here’s what he said:

“Early on in my administration, I, like a lot of other people, just associated the offshore wind industry with Cape Wind. That was the thing that was in the news, and I didn’t know much about the growth of the industry in northern Europe. But as I started to dig into it, it made all the sense in the world to put eggs into that basket because of the geographic advantages we have. I distinctly remember reading a Department of Energy report that said 25 percent of the nation’s wind reserves lie in the area south of Martha’s Vineyard going down the Eastern Seaboard. We’re the closest industrial seaport. We’ve got the deep water harbor. Now we have the marine terminal that is perfect for the wind industry because of its load capacity. And we have this seafaring workforce that is second to none in America. Offshore wind is a way to diversify our industry mix on the waterfront.”

 

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.

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.”