Offshore Wind: What’s next in New Bedford

By Steven Froias // For the New Bedford Ocean Cluster

Now that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has issued its final, favorable environmental assessment of the Vineyard Wind 1 project off the coast of Massachusetts, folks may be wondering “what’s next?” 

Immediately, what’s important is putting this decision in context. For, with this favorable assessment, BOEM has in effect created a template for all that follows in the offshore wind energy industry based on the model largely created from New Bedford. 

A process whereby an industry standard for developing a true offshore wind energy industry in the entire country has been established. That standard consists of the following: a process that allows for science-based decision making, ensures proper stakeholder engagement, steers projects toward minimal impacts, and sends clear signals about next steps.

Next steps

Next steps here in New Bedford, Massachusetts for the Vineyard Wind project is the Record of Decision (ROD). The ROD is the penultimate step. It requires that any stipulations that come from a federal inter-agency process, agencies such as the Army Corps of Engineers and the National Marine Fisheries Service, be identified.

Vineyard Wind will then need to figure out the final technical details and nail down its financing. (Vineyard Wind, a joint venture of Avangrid and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, would be financed through contracts with three major Massachusetts electric utilities, according to press material from the company.)  

Finally, within the next few months, according to Katie Theoharides, Governor Charlie Baker’s energy secretary, the company should receive its final approval for the project – and then begin construction of America’s first commercial scale wind farm. 

In the meantime…

Between now and then, however, much more will be happening. Because the onset of the offshore wind energy industry in the U.S. from New Bedford, Massachusetts will represent nothing less than a huge mobilization of marine industry resources seldom seen outside of wartime. 

This mobilization will require the inventory and alignment of assets this region possesses to an unprecedented degree. And here’s how that can happen: contact the New Bedford Ocean Cluster today if you’re in the marine industries. Email is Renewables@newbedfordoceancluster.org.

The New Bedford Ocean Cluster is designed to identify and help organize the region’s resources in preparation for the offshore wind energy industry. 

Led by the world-wide energy consultant firm Xodus Group, the New Bedford Ocean Cluster is tasked with creating a data bank of everything from electrical engineers to shipyards  – all the means necessary to make Vineyard Wind 1 a reality – and thus provide the most benefit to the local economy. 

Indeed, its motto is “Look Local First” on land and at sea when it comes to assembling the infrastructure needed to launch offshore wind as an industry from these shores. 

When the final reviews are in, this will be the time that’s remembered not as the end of a journey, nor even the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning. Take the next step if you’re in the marine industry and email Renewables@newbedfordoceancluster.org today.