US offshore wind is getting a boost in New England, as the Port of New Bedford will add another base of operations and terminal logistics facility to support offshore wind projects off Massachusetts and the northeastern coast seaboard. The former Sprague/Eversource site was selected for its proximity to offshore wind blocks located approximately 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket islands. The site will undergo redevelopment over the next year and be renamed the New Bedford Foss Marine Terminal.
We reached out to Andrew B. Saunders, president of New Bedford Foss Marine Terminal, LLC to learn more about the new facility and its potential for offshore wind in the regions.
What kind of reception has the local community offered as the New Bedford Foss Marine Terminal continues its early stages of construction?
The reception has been extremely positive. We have made a concerted effort to be transparent with the local community and the city as to our plans and have listened to their concerns. As an example, we needed to obtain the approval of both the Historical Commission and the City Council in order to obtain the demolition permit for the Power Plant. It is a structure which was built in 1905 and was on the National Register of Historic Places. The commission in a unanimous vote found that the building should be removed to accommodate a use of the property for offshore wind. The City Council also unanimously agreed. Importantly, at both public hearings, there was no community opposition and is an indication as to the support our project has received from the local community.
What assistance did the city of New Bedford offer to assuage any community concerns?
The city has for quite some time been out in front trying to attract offshore wind to the port. That effort started long before our project, and it assisted us in that we did not have to establish the narrative by ourselves. It was already started. Additionally, we signed a public private partnership agreement with the city that gained the support of the administration and was well received by the community.
How has construction gone — does it seem as if the Terminal will, indeed, be on target to open this summer?
We have just finished the demolition phase and are now starting to rebuild the bulkheads and do the site grading. One pier will be finished on June 1 and will berth construction tugs and other vessels at the terminal. Other parts of the facility will come on-line over time. Our fuel tanks will be installed in early summer, and dredging activities will start in September. The dredging activities will allow us to install additional CTV berthing and a dedicated OSV berth. We expect the warehouses and crew induction center to open in the fall and expect the entire Phase I improvements will be fully operational by January 2024 when the final dredge activities are finished.
What special design elements were incorporated into the marine coordination center for technicians supporting the Massachusetts offshore wind industry?
The facility will be able to serve the initial offshore construction need(s) by providing a marshaling area but will also have a crew induction center to facilitate crew changes and resupply construction vessels working offshore. We have been sure to incorporate UK and European elements into the design that create efficiencies in operations and are intended to cut down on the amount of time vessels remain in port. Once projects begin to achieve 1st electricity and transit from construction into the O&M phase, the terminal will adapt to construct warehouses for spare parts and other items need over the life of the offshore installations all with the same mindset of efficiency and minimizing the time O&M vessels are required to spend in port resupplying.
Please explain for our readers what “laydown services for the 450-foot-tall mono towers and more than 300-foot-long wind turbine blades” involves.
So, another word for laydown is storage.
An offshore wind turbine is an unmanned power plant which is comprised of various components. The wind turbine generator components consist of (i) the tower, (ii) the nacelle and (iii) the 3 blades (each being 350 ft in length).
On VW1, 62 of these structures will be built and will supply 804 MW of clean electricity.
These various components are all manufactured in different locations around the world will be shipped in batches (and as it relates to the towers, in pieces) to a marshaling yard in New Bedford where they are then pre-commissioned and readied in 62 sets for deployment/installation offshore. The main marshaling hub will be the Marine Commerce Terminal but is it expected that space limitations and other factors will require the New Bedford Foss Marine Terminal to also provide laydown space for these components between the time they arrive in New Bedford and the time they are needed offshore for installation.
What new technologies and new jobs with new skillsets will come to the area as a result of the project?
New Bedford is a very commercialized port, being routinely the #1-dollar fishing port in the nation. Offshore wind will leverage this existing port infrastructure of pre-existing service businesses by causing the need for more jobs in the already existing service industry such as marine repair technicians, welders, fitters, etc. New piers and wharfs will be constructed which will employ pile drives and other construction skills. Importantly, there will also be an entirely new set of skilled workers operating out of New Bedford which will not only construct the unmanned power plants offshore, but then operate and maintain the turbines for the next 30 years. These new jobs will be highly trained positions and will be a very important component of the New Bedford economy for a very long time.
Servicing the offshore wind turbines upon completion will take crews of up to 90 specialized workers (not sure if this is the exact number so I will answer generally).
What do you anticipate will be the effect on the local economy with this new workforce?
In scale: Huge. In context: The economic effect is not limited to just the specialized workers that will do the daily O&M work to keep the turbines and substations running. The economic impact starts when construction begins both at our terminal and offshore and continues into the O&M phase once the project reaches 1st electricity. The O&M workers that will depart from our facility in New Bedford will be an entirely new source of economic activity to the local economy as a whole. We had an economic impact study performed by Springline Research as part of our terminal development effort. Briefly, the report indicates the following:
• Expenditures on the Site Preparation/Construction activities over the 2022 – 2023 period are estimated to generate 1,278 total Full Time Equivalent (FTE) job years and $174.9 million in economic output
• Over the 2023 – 2035 period, direct payroll and non-payroll expenditures are estimated to generate a total of 8,600 job years and $1.57 billion in economic output (direct + indirect + induced)
This is just the activity going through our facility which gives you an indication as to the potential scale of the impact, which is positive.
When is the completed Vineyard Wind 1 project expected?
The term completed can have many definitions depending on the lens you are looking through, as there are numerous scopes of work that will be done by various contractors, all of which will have their own schedules. Vineyard Wind is overseeing all of these various scopes, and it is reported they expect to begin sending clean energy to the Massachusetts electrical grid in 2023 with full commercial operation occurring in 2024.
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