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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

One Square Mile: New Bedford's Gamble On Offshore Wind Energy/NPR

Great article on some of the foresight  and pre-work it takes to get utility-sized renewables on line.  No doubt offshore would be a boom for New Bedford and MA.

Wind turbines spin off the coast of Block Island. These turbines are part of the nation's first offshore wind farm, and New Bedford wants to be on the forefront of the up-and-coming offshore wind energy industry in Massachusetts.

Wind turbines spin off the coast of Block Island. These turbines are part of the nation's first offshore wind farm, and New Bedford wants to be on the forefront of the up-and-coming offshore wind energy industry in Massachusetts.
DENNIS SCHROEDER / NATIONAL RENEWABLE ENERGY LAB

For the past eight years, New Bedford has been advocating for offshore wind and preparing their port to service offshore wind pPaul Vigeant, managing director of the New Bedford Wind Energy Center, looks up a map that shows the potential for a booming offshore wind industry south of New Bedford.
The state recently passed a law that requires power companies to solicit 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind energy by 2027, enough to power half of the state's homes.
Right now, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources and the state's attorney general are reviewing three applications for large-scale offshore wind energy projects, which, once approved, could be the first projects of their size in the country.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also reported "Wind Turbine Service Technician" is projected to be the second fastest growing occupation between 2016 and 2026. New Bedford has been working to become a hub for jobs like these and other work related to offshore wind.
For example, Vigeant, who is also vice president of workforce development at Bristol Community College in Fall River, said the school has been offering a wind technician certificate program since 2013. Students learn how to construct turbines, maintain them once they're deployed and learn about tower safety.
However, commercial fishermen have their own concern about offshore wind farms.
"Location is the biggest issue that fishermen have with the turbines," Eric Hansen, boat owner and former scallop fishermen, said. rojects. But why is the city betting on this industry?
"It’s windy, windy, windy just off our coast," Paul Vigeant, managing director at the New Bedford Wind Energy Center, said. "It’s a unique physical property of the earth that every day, every night the gulf stream and the ocean collides with the Northern jet stream in the atmosphere and it creates this dynamic, sustainable, renewable energy source."
Vigeant added, a couple hundred miles off of New Bedford’s coast, the water isn’t as deep compared to other parts of the country. That makes it a lot easier to install and maintain offshore wind turbines to harness all that wind.
Vigeant himself is the Wind Energy Center. He's been working closely with the Port of New Bedford and the city's Economic Development Council to spread the center's message.
"For the past eight years, we've been at Chamber of Commerce meetings, business meetings, community meetings, Rotary meetings, just informing people about the importance of this and the need to get ready," Vigeant said. 


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