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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.

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.

 

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.

 

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.”

 

 

 

 

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!

WEC’S Paul Vigeant: America waking up to wind power

Paul Vigeant, Executive Director of the New Bedford Wind Energy Center and Vice President for Workforce Development for Bristol Community College, recently attended the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) Conference in New Orleans.

In all, 7,200 representatives of the wind energy sector attended the three-day event – the biggest turnout ever. And news that the Massachusetts House of Representatives released legislation calling for 1,200 megawatts of offshore wind energy created lots of buzz.

We caught up with Paul to get his impressions about the conference and where wind energy is today in the United States.

Q. Tell us a little about the conference.

  1. All of the major land-based wind energy companies were in attendance. My first impression is how wind energy is no longer just this cool experience or a lark. It is real business. It is emerging as a real energy player in the United States and the world.

Q. That’s interesting. We think of Europe as the leader in wind energy.

  1. Europe is the leader in offshore wind energy, no question. But in land-based wind, the United States is the dominant player in the whole world. The U.S. has more than 50,000 land-based turbines with 70 gigawatts of installed capacity. That’s a lot of power and it continues to grow.

Q.  How does offshore wind fit into the picture?

  1. A lot of the technology used for land-based wind is transferable to offshore wind. We manufacture wind turbines right here in the United States. In fact, the combination of the European experience with offshore wind — they’ve made a lot of mistakes that we can learn from — and the know-how of our existing wind industry provides is pretty powerful foundation for a new industry.

Q. Was anyone paying attention to the Massachusetts energy bill that calls for 1,200 megawatts of offshore wind energy?

  1. The news was a little slow to leak out. But then it made the newsletter that they produce for the conference, and it created a lot of buzz. People recognize that this is the dawn of a new industry in the United States and that they can be part of it. It’s not just the wind people who see this. People who work on the oil and gas rigs in the Gulf have skills that can be used in offshore wind. In fact, they already are working on the DeepWater project off of Rhode Island.

Q. How does all this relate to New Bedford and efforts to establish this industry on the South Coast of Massachusetts?

  1. In the next 20 years, the fastest growing occupation in the country will be wind turbine technician, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. But it’s not on anyone’s radar. There is no consistent training or certification or even an agreement about what a properly trained wind turbine tech needs to know. At BCC, we have a wind energy program and we can help lead the way in workforce development. Also, we already have the workers. The maritime workforce in our region has the skills needed to operate and maintain offshore wind turbines.  All they need is the right training.