NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — New Bedford is about to become home to the first port in North America built specifically for the staging and installation of offshore wind projects.
The state has announced lease agreements with Vineyard Wind and Mayflower Wind at the facility from 2023 to 2027, and are worth more than $32.5 million.
“These are the two first projects that Massachusetts is involved in and they’re going to be staged their construction project from New Bedford,” New Bedford Port Authority Director Edward Anthes-Washburn said.
The two 800 megawatt offshore wind projects will be over 15 miles off the East Coast, but the turbines and equipment needed to build them will be set up at the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal, a 9-acre plot of remediated tideland that was filled in for this purpose.
Port Authority Director Ed Anthes-Washburn says it’s an opportunity to grow the local economy. “Hundreds if not thousands of jobs and dozens of vessels and all of those vessels will need supplies and fuel and everything else that you need in order to stage a marine operation and that’s really what we’re great at here in New Bedford,” he said.
But it’s a delicate balance. New Bedford is the most lucrative fishing port in the country. Fisherman want to make sure the new industry they’re hosting in the Whaling City won’t ruin their livelihood.
Anthes-Washburn says the Port Authority has been very involved in the marine spacial planning aspect of the farms.
“We think that it can be done in a way that fishing and offshore wind coexist but you need to make sure you’re putting these things in the right place so you’re not impacting large amounts of fishing and large amounts of economic activity that we have in New Bedford,” he said.
After the initial project is complete, it’s estimated that the pier and port will be of importance for years to come as future projects may come up in other parts of the East Coast, as well as for maintaining what’s already out there.