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.