Providing low-cost renewable energy is not the only thing coming from three companies who are competing to build wind farms off Martha’s Vineyard. By partnering regionally in a big way, they are also bringing new local investments and the prospect of many jobs created.
Those three companies are Deepwater Wind, Bay State Wind, and Vineyard Wind. All three have already submitted bids in December on state contracts for up to 800 megawatts of offshore wind power. The proposals are still under review but a contract is expected to be awarded.
Deepwater Wind has begun the search for where to build the wind turbine foundation subsystems its offering. Those foundations are heavy and complex, weighing some 1,500 tons and incorporating a significant amount of steel. That alone should create some 300 direct jobs and another 600 which are indirectly tied to the project, but that’s not all that’s happening. The company is also collaborating with local boat builders who will construct vessels to support both the deployment and operation of the wind farm. It also plans to set up shop on a New Bedford waterfront terminal for construction and staging operations there. The boat building, ongoing use of the vessels, and the waterfront terminal work should bring in another 700 jobs.
Bay State Wind, a partnership of Eversource and Orsted, has set up its own special collaborations also. It is opening a manufacturing plant for building its offshore wind subsystems. Its partners for this include German steel pipe manufacturing source EEW and Houston-based Gulf Island Fabrication. When that plant is set up, it will add over 500 construction jobs each year in the fields of welding, blaster painter, steel fabricators and more. An additional 1200 indirect jobs are also expected to be supported from the setting up and operating the manufacturing facility as well.
Vineyard Wind, in collaboration with the nonprofit Citizens Energy Corporation, has already filed formal proposals for its plans to put in place a 220-kilovolt electric transmission line running 27 miles long between its onshore and offshore sections, a new substation which it plans to put in Barnstable, and a 115-kilovolt underground transmission line to connect the onshore substation and the existing substation.
Its proposal ‘sweetener’ is a plan to use the profits from the operation to create a fund to contribute $1 million per year for 15 years for solar and battery storage projects for communities that are hosting the project. New Bedford, Nantucket, Barnstable, Yarmouth, towns within Bristol County, and towns on Martha’s Vineyard would all benefit. That fund will back a revolving loan facility to allow multifamily and low-income housing owners to put in energy efficiency upgrades. It will also provide a continuing flow of credits to electricity bills for low-income residents as well, according to statements provided by Citizens Energy.
In conjunction with the three proposals, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management plans hearings soon to development environmental impact statements on the Vineyard Wind proposals. That company is also further along than the other two in going after permits to allow its projects to proceed. That includes a formal review by the state Energy Facilities Siting Board, for Vineyard Wind’s plans to connect its planned substation off Independence Drive in Barnstable to the state’s existing electricity network.
No matter what the full outcome of the three projects may be, it is clear they will bring a significant ‘windfall’ to the state in the form of new jobs, a wide range of new business opportunities and a major boost to the local economy.