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New Bedford marks arrival of first turbine sections for offshore wind

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell and other dignitaries spoke at a press conference Thursday celebrating the arrival, the previous afternoon, of the first turbine tower for the Vineyard Wind offshore wind farm. Two tower sections can be seen aboard the vessel UHL Felicity in the background.
Jennette Barnes

Dignitaries gathered at the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal on Thursday to celebrate the arrival of wind-turbine components for Vineyard Wind.

They stood on the terminal’s broad quayside, in front of the heavy-lift cargo ship UHL Felicity, which docked in the late afternoon on Wednesday with five sections of a turbine tower onboard.

“Like many of you, I've been to this port many times over the years, patiently or not so patiently, waiting for the real action to come,” said Jennifer Daloisio, CEO of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. “And now, when I come here, there's always something new to see — from some of the largest cranes in the world, to now, the arrival of the first components.”

Speakers included New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell, Vineyard Wind CEO Klaus Moeller, Undersecretary of Energy Michael Judge, state legislators, and other officials from energy company Avangrid, turbine manufacturer GE, and the Massachusetts Building Trades Council.

State Rep. Antonio Cabral, a New Bedford Democrat, emphasized the value of offshore wind for local jobs.

“It's a great opportunity for the working families of this city in this region … to have livable-wage jobs that will pay and have good benefits,” he said.

The ship crossed the Atlantic from Portugal, where the tower sections are manufactured using components from the global supply chain, according to Jeff Lewis, a project director for GE.

He said the first shipment of turbine blades is expected to arrive in early June from a factory in Gaspé, Québec, in Canada. Additional blades will come from Cherbourg, France.

The nacelles — rotor-generator assemblies at the hub of a turbine — will sail from Saint-Nazaire, France, where they are manufactured, he said.

Many speakers at the event recalled 15 years of planning — and hoping — for the day turbines would come to New Bedford.

Frank Callahan, president of the Massachusetts Building Trades Council, said then-Gov. Deval Patrick made a bold move by building the terminal for offshore wind, starting in 2013.

“Governor Patrick took a real gamble in building this facility,” he said. “This was a real move of courage.”

Vineyard Wind signed a union labor agreement with the council two years ago.

Moeller said 300 union members have already worked on the project, with turbine installation still to come.

Installation will begin this summer. The wind farm, called Vineyard Wind 1, is scheduled to start generating power with the initial group of turbines by the end of the year. More turbines will be installed next year, for a total of 62.

Jennette Barnes is a reporter and producer. Named a Master Reporter by the New England Society of News Editors, she brings more than 20 years of news experience to CAI.
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