Partnership to Develop Local Worker Training for Offshore Wind
NEW BEDFORD — The development of the offshore wind industry off the coast of Massachusetts has been in the works for a while now, but not much has been said about the jobs that will keep the industry running.
On Monday morning, Bay State Wind announced plans to develop a training center for workforce development in the offshore wind industry.
Bay State Wind is a partnership between Orsted, a world leader in offshore wind development with 23 offshore wind farms in Europe, and Eversource. It's one of three companies bidding to build the first industrial scale offshore wind farm in the United States, set to be located 25 miles off the coast of Massachusetts.
The company announced that it has signed agreements with three major Massachusetts labor unions and two educational institutions to develop the center in an initiative to support the industry with local training.
Vice-President of Transmission Performance for Eversource Ken Bowes says that the region's transmission system is the “backbone of the electrical grid with millions of residents and businesses relying on it to power their lives daily.”
Bowes says that to be successful at running a network of structures, lines, and substations that carry up to 340,000 volts of electricity during every second of every day requires the coordination and cooperation of workers on every level. With the addition of the offshore wind industry to the region, he says that training workers is crucial for its success.
“Without the groundwork of the marine terminal facilities, the regulatory framework established by the legislature, and the vision that local leaders have had for economic development, today would not be a reality,” Bowes said. “I truly believe that this is the right time and the right place for offshore wind in in New Bedford to be a catalyst in the development of a new industry in America.”
The agreement includes the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA), the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers, Bristol Community College, and Massachusetts Maritime Academy.
“We are very happy to be working with Bay State Wind, which is the only offshore wind developer that is committing to become a true Massachusetts company, by training and hiring local union labor,” said Mike Monahan, International Vice President, second district, of the IBEW. “They are investing heavily in the commonwealth, and we know they will be here long-term, as a key partner in our clean energy future.”
Bay State Wind says that it will prioritize Massachusetts workers for the construction and maintenance of its wind farms. The company expects to hire up to 1,000 workers during the construction phase, using the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal for the assembly and transportation of components to the development area off the south coast of Martha's Vineyard.
Once installed, the turbines are expected to have a 25-year lifespan, which the company estimates to create 100 permanent positions for along with an operation and maintenance facility to be located in New Bedford.
The training center is yet another investment Bay State Wind is making to Massachusetts. Last month, Bay State Wind reached an agreement with EEW, the international market leader in steel pipe manufacturing, to open and staff a Massachusetts plant to manufacture offshore wind components, in collaboration with Gulf Island Fabrication, a U.S.-based world leader in the construction of offshore and onshore energy facilities. EEW is considering a variety of sites for their new, Massachusetts plant, including locations on the South Coast.
“We see the establishment of an offshore wind training center here as an important step in staking our claim in the emerging offshore wind industry,” said Mayor Jon Mitchell. “We appreciate Bay State Wind's commitment to preparing the industry's workforce, and we look forward to working with our partners in higher education and organized labor to make the proposed center a reality.”
Massachusetts' evaluators are expected to decide by May 23 which of three developers will be awarded the right to build the first wind farm.