New proposals would alter New Bedfords role in offshore wind

New proposals would alter New Bedfords role in offshore wind

NEW BEDFORD With bids now submitted for the fourth round of offshore wind solicitations, developers have announced their proposals, which include the varied roles theyd like New Bedford to play in getting their projects into the water. 

Avangrid submitted two bids (for 800 and nearly 1,900 megawatts); Vineyard Offshore (a parent company of Vineyard Wind) submitted a bid for 1,200 megawatts; and SouthCoast Wind re-submitted a bid for 1,200 megawatts after canceling its contract with the state last fall. 

The companies submitted their bids jointly to Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut as part of a new multi-state procurement process to leverage the states buying power and reduce project risk. Together, the states are seeking up to 6.8 gigawatts of wind energy toward the Biden administrations goal of 30 gigawatts operational by 2030 a benchmark the country is unlikely to meet. 

Port infrastructure is one of the most significant bottlenecks for the U.S. offshore wind industry, according to industry group Oceantic Network, and gaps remain. 

The country will need not only existing ports like the Port of New Bedford and the upcoming terminal in Salem but also new ones to meet the federal governments offshore wind goals and serve the growing demand for all facets of development: marshaling, manufacturing, operations, staging and maintenance.

If Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island decide to move forward with these proposals, the Port of New Bedford is slated to expand and diversify its role in the U.S. offshore wind industry to meet those needs. 

Artist rendering of the proposed offshore wind terminal in Salem, Mass., which is expected to be completed in 2026.

Vineyard Wind 2

Vineyard Wind 2, which is 29 miles south of Nantucket, is set to be bigger in power and size than Vineyard Wind 1. Unlike its first project, Vineyard Offshore plans to use the under-construction wind terminal in Salem to construct and stage the project. 

The company says the 42-acre terminal will provide hundreds of union jobs for an emerging offshore wind workforce and supply chain on the North Shore.

A spokesperson for Vineyard Offshore, when asked why the company selected Salem for staging and construction for Vineyard Wind 2 (and not the Port of New Bedford), said by email that construction out of Salem and operations out of New Bedford makes their bid strong and regionally supportive.

Source: Vineyard Offshore

New Bedford is still part of Vineyard Wind 2s plan, however in a different capacity as an operations and maintenance hub at the New Bedford Foss Marine Terminal. While staging and construction last only one to two years, operations and maintenance work is meant to last as long as the project, or up to 30 years. 

Vineyard Wind 1 last year started construction on its operations and maintenance facilities on Marthas Vineyard. That site will host technicians, planners, helicopter pilots, other support staff, and crew transfer vessels to take crew to and from the turbines for maintenance.

Andrew Saunders, president of the New Bedford Foss Marine Terminal, said Vineyard Wind 2s proposal for an operations hub in New Bedford would be a huge economic benefit. He said Foss would employ 15 to 20 people at its terminal, but that its tenants (contracted by Vineyard Wind 2) would employ hundreds. 

Saunders said Foss plans to build a 30,000 square-foot warehouse for the project to store important components and supplies; some would go in a climate controlled portion (for example, sensitive parts for the nacelle the turbines generator). 

The Foss terminal has already been supporting the Vineyard Wind 1 project with berthing for support vessels and other shoreside services. Foss has also been supporting the project with its feeder barge system, transporting the major turbine components from the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal to the offshore site for installation. 

Vineyard Offshore says its proposed operations facility in New Bedford will provide dozens of long-term jobs and strengthen the city of New Bedford as a regional hub for the offshore wind industry.

Rendering of New Bedford Foss Marine Terminal

By making effective use of ports, facilities, and interconnection points throughout the region, Vineyard Wind 2 offers the most economic project configuration possible while delivering economic benefits for all three states, said Vineyard Offshore CEO Alicia Barton in a statement.

The project also proposes using the Port of Providence and other sites nearby to source steel for foundation components, and Montville, Connecticut, as the site of interconnection where undersea cables will make landfall and connect to a new substation.

The company said it will provide up to $37.5 million in initiatives to promote a diverse workforce and supply chain, and advance regional research efforts in fisheries and the environment, among other efforts.

According to Vineyard Offshore, the project would create enough renewable energy to power more than 650,000 homes as early as 2031. Under this fourth round of solicitations, all proposals must have a scheduled commercial operation date before Jan. 1, 2032. 

New England Wind 1 and 2

Avangrid, which co-owns the Vineyard Wind 1 project, submitted two proposals. One would see the development of one project, New England Wind 1, at nearly 800 megawatts. The other would develop New England Wind 1 and New England Wind 2 (formerly Commonwealth Wind) at 1,870 megawatts. 

New England Wind 1, 30 miles south of Barnstable, is the new name for Park City Wind, a project that was scrapped when Avangrid canceled its contract with Connecticut. At 791 megawatts, it could power around 400,000 homes, the company says. 

Avangrid describes its first proposal as shovel ready, with agreements already in place and federal review well underway; final federal approval expected as soon as this summer; and construction as early as next year. 

New England Wind 1, like Vineyard Wind 2, plans to use Salem as its marshaling port for construction. The company has entered a binding lease agreement with Crowley Maritime, which owns the Salem terminal along with MassCEC. 

Similarly, the project proposes an operations and maintenance hub in New Bedford at Shoreline Offshore, a company owned by Quinn Fisheries. 

“In keeping with our tradition of sustainability we began offering offshore wind support services and have been proud to support Avangrid’s development of Vineyard Wind 1 from our facilities, said Shoreline Offshore President Mike Quinn in a statement. We look forward to Avangrid’s award in this solicitation so that Massachusetts-based businesses like ours can continue to develop a sustainable local supply chain.”

Avangrid also announced plans to build a manufacturing facility in the city for cranes that can lift heavy offshore wind equipment. The company is partnering with Danish manufacturer Liftra to build a first-in-the-nation crane manufacturing facility at South Coast Mills in the South End.

The davit cranes are used to lift equipment for turbine repairs and maintenance. Per Avangrid, no such cranes are manufactured in the United States. 

Finally, Avangrid also plans to use the New Bedford Foss Marine Terminal to operate its crew transfer vessels (CTVs) and service operation vessels (SOVs). The former are about 60 to 100 feet long and are used for day trips, but SOVs can scale at 250 to 300 feet and support offshore trips that last one to two weeks. 

True to its name, New England Wind is a commitment from Salem to Boston, New Bedford to Barnstable, North Kingstown to Bridgeport to make the region and its historic communities the heart and soul of this project, said Avangrid Chief Development Officer, Offshore Ken Kimmell, in a statement. 

SouthCoast Wind 

SouthCoast Wind, formerly Mayflower Wind, terminated its contract with the state in October, but rebid its 1,200-megawatt project to all three states. 

The first ever tri-state offshore wind solicitation demonstrates an unshakeable commitment to a clean energy future for all and we are proud to submit our bid, said SouthCoast Wind CEO Michael Brown in a statement. The SouthCoast Wind project is on schedule to deliver abundant and renewable power to New Englands electric grid by 2030. 

The company executed a lease agreement with MassCEC for the New Bedford terminal years ago. A SouthCoast Wind spokesperson could not confirm Wednesday if the company still intends to use the New Bedford terminal for staging and construction. 

Per MassCECs Director of Offshore Wind Bruce Carlisle, the lease agreement with SouthCoast Wind accounts for several contingencies and includes termination rights for both parties.

Vineyard Winds lease runs through Dec. 31 of this year, and the developer has an option to extend it by 90 days.

Asked if MassCEC has a developer in line to lease the terminal once Vineyard Wind vacates, Carlisle said by email earlier this month, before the bids were due and made public, that the agencys focus in 2025 will be on an improvement and expansion project, which includes work on the bulkhead and laydown area. 

This work will not prevent use by an offshore wind developer, or other potential tenants, Carlisle said, adding MassCEC provided a lease option offer to all the developers eligible in this fourth round of solicitations.

In a letter to the states Department of Energy Resources (DOER) on Wednesday, Mayor Jon Mitchell wrote SouthCoast Wind is the only developer that has committed to establishing both operations and maintenance and staging of its project in New Bedford. That commitment, however, is contingent on Massachusetts agreeing to purchase at least half of the projects 1,200 megawatts. 

In a footnote, he warned about a period of inactivity at the citys marine commerce terminal with the other developers opting to use the new Salem terminal as their staging and construction port.

Avangrids and Vineyard Offshores commitments to marshal their project from Salem portend a gap in major activity at the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal for two to three years after the Vineyard Wind project is complete, he wrote. If it is infeasible for the terminal to share a significant amount of marshaling work, it will be important for the MassCEC to find cargo opportunities for the terminal, including from offshore wind projects based in other states. 

In an earlier letter to the developers on the request for proposals, dated August of 2023, Mitchell said commitment to marshaling the projects out of New Bedford should be prioritized as it would help in how the state evaluates the developers bids.

In Wednesdays letter, he stressed the importance of investing in New Bedford long term so that the city can grow into an offshore wind energy cluster.

Whats next

DOER and the utility companies are scheduled to select projects by August. They will review the proposals quantitatively (for example, project costs) and qualitatively (economic development and environmental or fisheries impacts).

The Healey-Driscoll Administration will review bids over the coming months, and coordinate with Connecticut and Rhode Island to evaluate multi-state projects that would increase benefits for the region, lower costs, and enhance project viability, said Massachusetts Energy Resources Commissioner Elizabeth Mahony in a statement. Massachusetts is committed to growing its offshore wind industry. 

The state may select the projects in conjunction with Rhode Island and Connecticut as part of this new process, or pursue the bids independently.

Email Anastasia E. Lennon at [email protected].