Fishermen helped in siting offshore wind farms

You can’t say that Massachusetts officials haven’t been engaged during the creation of the new offshore wind industry. Bill White of the Massachusetts

Bill White of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center told an audience in New Bedford that the state's first 1,600 MW of offshore wind will eliminate 2.4 million tons of greenhouse gases annually;

Bill White of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center told an audience in New Bedford that the state’s first 1,600 MW of offshore wind will eliminate 2.4 million tons of greenhouse gases annually;

Clean Energy Center told an audience of about 50 at the New Bedford Free Public Library that more than 100 meetings with citizens and stakeholders have been held since 2009.

The state created working groups on fisheries and habitat to ensure that the interests of both commercial fishermen and environmental advocates were taken into consideration in identifying the future sites of offshore wind farms south of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

As a result of those conversations, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management reduced the area leased to offshore wind developers Deepwater Wind, Bay State Wind and Vineyard Wind by 60 percent. Other conversation will guide the routes of buried electrical transmission lines under 6 to 12 feet of ocean floor.

“A lot of the changes (resulted from) the input of the commercial fishing industry,” White said.

Studies of marine species — including right whales and leatherback turtles — and birds like long-tailed ducks and white wing scoters that are frequent visitors to our waters are ongoing, and recommendations to regulate construction and location of wind turbines 15 to 25 miles south of the Vineyard are forthcoming, along with additional studies to help guide the process so that it works in the everyone’s best interests.

New Bedford Wind Energy Center Director Paul Vigeant is helping lead a study of workforce size and training needs for the new industry as it builds out over the next decade.

“Our goal is to know in four or five years that we have a ready workforce,” he said.

Bristol Community College, UMass Dartmouth and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy are participating in the study.