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New Bedford wants bigger operational role in future wind farms, mayor says

Workers help transport an offshore wind turbine blade before it is stacked on top of another at Vineyard Wind on Thursday, June 8, 2023, in New Bedford, Mass. (Raquel C. Zaldívar/New England News Collaborative)
Raquel C. Zaldívar
/
New England News Collaborative
Workers help transport an offshore wind turbine blade before it is stacked on top of another at Vineyard Wind on Thursday, June 8, 2023, in New Bedford, Mass. (Raquel C. Zaldívar/New England News Collaborative)

Now that Vineyard Wind has delivered its first power to the grid, local communities are looking ahead to what comes next.

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell tells CAI he hopes to position the city as a hub for wind farm operation, long beyond the construction phase.

“There are aspects of the industry that are continual — the operation and maintenance in particular,” he said. “We see ourselves as an operations and maintenance port. Our geographic proximity lends itself to that, as does our infrastructure.”

For Vineyard Wind, most operation and maintenance work will be based on Martha’s Vineyard. But project officials have signed an agreement to dock some of their crew-transport vessels at Pope’s Island in New Bedford.

Vineyard Wind has staged its construction from the New Bedford waterfront, but that will come to a close once all 62 turbines are installed.

Mitchell said the city has talked with wind developers about playing a larger operations role in the future. Bids for the next set of offshore wind contracts in Massachusetts are due Jan. 31.

“We have had considerable discussions with all the developers about the need to have operations and maintenance here,” he said.

But he said New Bedford should be ready for a time when new technologies supplant some of the need for workers to go to the wind farm.

“We’ll also want to be a place where those new technologies are developed,” he said. “So we’re pushing very hard now to become a center of marine technology, especially in the climate space, because I think that's where the industry in general is going.”

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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