New Bedford Sees More State Support for Offshore Wind
NEW BEDFORD — The burgeoning local offshore wind industry is getting another shot in the arm from the state.
Governor Charlie Baker and other officials formally put out a request for proposals for $50 million in port infrastructure development projects at the city's Marine Commerce Terminal on Thursday, before heading to Dartmouth to announce $3.8 million in funding for offshore wind jobs training.
The governor joined Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, State Rep. Antonio Cabral, Mayor Jon Mitchell, and other officials at the New Bedford kickoff for Massachusetts Clean Energy Center's Offshore Wind Industry Ports Investment Challenge.
Officials noted that they chose the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal as it's the first and only port facility in the U.S. currently capable of staging, building, and maintaining commercial-scale offshore wind farms.
The challenge will see contractors compete for $50 million in funding, which was set aside from the newly created Offshore Wind Investment Fund that came out of the state's first round of ARPA money allocated by the legislature in December.
MassCEC will select and fund applicants whose projects will better position port facilities to support the offshore wind industry by bringing inactive and under-utilized sites into productive use.
Project proposals are due by 5 p.m. on July 29, and the administration expects to announce the awards in the fall.
Gov. Baker said that Massachusetts is well positioned to compete in the budding industry, despite the challenges of being "a little bit ahead of everybody else."
"At this point in time, it's pretty clear the feds are going to move quickly to ensure that many of the projects that are currently slated to be developed get developed and built as quickly as possible," he noted.
MassCEC CEO Jennifer Daloisio also touted the job opportunities that she said would come out of the port development project.
"With MassCEC's programs that focus on workforce development," she said, "we can ensure that these opportunities are equitable and accessible to all of our diverse populations."
She spoke in New Bedford before heading to UMass Dartmouth with other officials to announce $3.8 million in funding for offshore wind workforce training programs at nine organizations.
An estimated $2 million in extra funding will also be leveraged through cost-sharing and in-kind contributions, officials stated.
The awards come from MassCEC's Offshore Wind Works Program through a new offshore wind energy career training trust fund with additional support from two major players: Mayflower Wind and Vineyard Wind.
Construction is already starting on Vineyard Wind 1, the nation's first commercial scale offshore wind project, which is basing operations out of New Bedford and is located off the coast of Nantucket.
The Mayflower Wind project is queued up right after.
The nine programs receiving funding include Bristol Community College's National Offshore Wind Institute Specialized Industry Training Center, a Basic Seamanship course for union workers at Mass Maritime Academy and expanding the academy's Global Wind Organization-certified course offerings, as well as paid internships in relevant careers at UMass Dartmouth.
Other institutions set to receive funds include programs at UMass Amherst and UMass Lowell, Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, and Xodus Academy, as well as Ironworkers Local 7 and Southeastern Massachusetts Building Trades Council and Building Pathways South.
“With several major offshore wind projects in various stages of approval and construction, it is crucial we have a qualified, well-trained, and diverse homegrown workforce that is ready to enter the industry,” said Gov. Baker.
“The Offshore Wind Works Program, coupled with other efforts like the FORWARD Act, will support the Commonwealth in developing a workforce capable of contributing to the industry.”