The Offshore Wind clock is ticking toward lift-off…

By Steven Froias

For the New Bedford Ocean Cluster

Much has written about the looming offshore wind industry in Massachusetts over the past decade or so. The reality has just been over the horizon. It’s even felt stagnant at times. 

That’s all changing – rapidly. Much of that has to do with the administration in Washington, D.C. Dealing with climate change – and crafting an industrial energy policy to deal with it – is at the top of its agenda, according to President Joe Biden. Actually, make that implementing an industrial energy policy. 

Because the policy has largely been crafted. It’s what reported on over this past decade – here in New Bedford, Massachusetts and around the nation. Now, it’s just getting the greenlight from the top. 

Consider this: during an online panel entitled “Harnessing The Wind” held on Tuesday, Feb. 9, Nathaniel Mayo, Director of Public Affairs for Vineyard Wind said, something headline worthy. 

It was this: The company expects that this October, 2021 Vineyard Wind 1, which will use the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal (pictured above) as a staging area, will commence construction. Vineyard Wind 1 will be the nation’s first utility-scale offshore wind energy project, located just over 15 miles off the coast of Massachusetts.  The project will generate clean, renewable, cost-competitive energy for over 400,000 homes and businesses across the Commonwealth, while reducing carbon emissions by over 1.6 million tons per year.

Long in the planning stages, a fixed date has finally been assigned – after the extraordinary decision by Vineyard Wind to first pause the permitting process for the project in the waning days of the Trump administration and then promptly resubmitting to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management when Biden assumed the presidency. 

And so, 2021 is the milestone year. 

Creating a new industry, and implementing a mammoth industrial and employment policy here in Massachusetts and throughout the nation to bring it to life, will be unlike any other mobilization of resources this country has seen in peacetime. 

In conjunction with the resumption of the permitting process for Vineyard Wind, and their goal of October as a launch date, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center is also acting with all due possible haste. 

The Center has issued the following Request for Information

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) has released a Request for Information (RFI) seeking input related to advancing the utilization of port facilities in the Commonwealth for the emerging offshore wind industry.  The RFI encompasses three subject areas:

  • The utility and completeness of information provided in the Massachusetts Offshore Wind Ports and Infrastructure Assessment;
  • Operations and uses of MassCEC’s New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal; and
  • Partnerships and financing for investments in the redevelopment, improvement, or expansion of port facilities.

(Request for Information: Utilization of Massachusetts Port Facilities for Offshore Wind – submit an electronic file of your RFI response to offshorewind@masscec.com by Wednesday, March 10, 2021 at 11:59pm. All submissions should include: “MA Offshore Wind Ports RFI” in the subject heading.)

Between now and October, there is much to do. As Nathaniel Mayo stated during “Harnessing The Wind,” the supply chain necessary to implement a renewable offshore wind industry is definitely playing catch up. 

The New Bedford Ocean Cluster (NBOC), formed by the New Bedford Port Authority and administered by renewable energy consultants, Xodus Group, stands ready to guide businesses in the region forward. Indeed, the NBOC’s mission is to work collaboratively with a range of private sector, public sector and academic partners to establish New Bedford as the leading ocean economy on the East Coast.

If you’re in the marine industry, reach out to the NBOC here to align your enterprise with this massive effort. 

Because there is now no time to waste. Only opportunity to seize.