Baker announces Offshore Wind Investment Challenge in New Bedford
NEW BEDFORD – Gov. Charlie Baker wants Massachusetts to keep the offshore wind industry on a relatively fast track by moving as quickly as possible to develop the physical infrastructure and create a skilled workforce needed to lead the way as other states on the East Coast aim to lead the way.
At the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal Thursday morning, Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Card joined local officials to announce the launch of the Offshore Wind Industry Ports Investment Challenge.
Local businesses are invited to submit a request for proposals for the $50 million allocated from the newly created Offshore Wind Investment Fund for eligible maritime port redevelopment and improvement projects with applications due by July 29 and the awards announced this fall.
“Massachusetts is well positioned to be a major player, not only in solving many of our own clean energy objectives on a go forward basis, but to be a provider and a supporter for other folks as they go through the process of building out and benefiting from this burgeoning industry here on the East Coast,” he said. “New Bedford in many respects will end up being what I think of as ground zero with respect to a lot of this activity.”
Seeing is believing:New Bedford walking tour shows where offshore wind jobs will be
Massachusetts Clean Energy Center CEO Jen Daloisio said she’s thrilled to launch the offshore wind port investment challenge at the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal, the first of its kind in the United States, in recognition of the need to invest in infrastructure.
“We’re excited to see our historic port communities reinvigorated,” she said. “Along with public and private partnerships and investments, we can make improvements to port facilities and bring them into active use for this new industry. This will create significant jobs and economic activity in local communities.”
She said MassCEC can ensure through its programs focusing on workforce development that these opportunities will be equitable and accessible to all the state’s diverse populations.
With contracts going out in October or November, Daloisio said Vineyard Wind will be able to begin operations at the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal in January and Mayflower Wind will follow on their heels to set up their part of the development.
Could it be in a movie?:This home was designed by the architect of the original Breakers.
Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Card said investments need to be made in other Massachusetts ports, too, to support the offshore wind industry.
“This $50 million that we’re making available today will also help to leverage additional private and local in-kind contributions to New Bedford so we’re working as a team, and we really look forward to those partnerships, but it’s also part of a larger plan,” she said.
She said funding opportunities are also available through the Future Opportunities for Resiliency, Workforce and Revitalized Downtowns (Forward) Act, an economic development bill that includes $1.3 billion in environmental and energy infrastructure funding, with $150 million intended to support renewable energy in Massachusetts through research, innovation and workforce training.
Baker has also proposed $100 million in supplemental funding for investment in the state’s ports to help meet the state’s decarbonization goals including reaching net zero emissions by 2050 and becoming more resilient to climate change with offshore wind as the centerpiece.
Mayor Jon Mitchell said he read a report that there are some 19 ports between Massachusetts and South Carolina that will have some offshore wind activity in the next five years, so there is competition.
“The legislation that is now pending is critical to getting out ahead of the competition,” he said. ‘The offshore wind business is coming. It’s going to set up shop somewhere. We want it to set up shop here.”
Sen. Michael Barrett, D-Lexington, and Rep. Antonio Cabral, D-New Bedford, agreed there is competition and that Massachusetts needs to continue to lead the way.
Baker, Polito, Card and Daloisio also visited UMass Dartmouth to meet with Chancellor Mark Fuller for the presentation of Offshore Wind Works Awards highlighting the administration’s efforts in building a clean energy workforce. A total of $3.8 million in grant funding has been awarded to nine Massachusetts organizations.
Standard-Times staff writer Kathryn Gallerani can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter: @kgallreporter. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Standard-Times today.