NEW BEDFORD — Following the recent demolition of the two cooling towers and end of operations at the last coal-fired power plant, new operations planned for Brayton Point in Somerset are expected to be “the south coast’s energy future.”

Leaders in renewable energy, educators, and a collection of local and federal politicians gathered at the UMass Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) building on Friday to discuss the future of the recently demolished Brayton Point Power Plant.

The Brayton Point redevelopment project is intended to repurpose the retired 1,600 megawatt coal power plant into a world-class logistics port and support center for the offshore wind industry. Brayton Point is located just 37 nautical miles from offshore wind areas, 50 miles from the MassCEC’s Wind Technology Testing Center, and has direct access to I-195 and Route 24.

From the federal delegation, Congressmen Bill Keating (D-MA 9th District) and Joe Kennedy III (D-MA 4th District) turned out for the SMAST meeting to speak about the importance of the project, as well as the efforts of the area’s federal delegates to get the Brayton Point Commerce Center up and running.

“Many people are coming here not knowing what’s going on in southeastern Massachusetts or here at SMAST, but they’re going to learn today very quickly that this is going to be the epicenter of the blue economy for our country. That might sound a little exaggerated, but trust me, it’s not. We have the three pillars I talked about this morning: the academic pillar, the governmental pillar, and the private sector pillar. It’s all coming together here and it’s going to create new jobs, a new economy, and we will be a national center, and I think in time, an ocean center,” said Congressman Bill Keating.

“The types of jobs that are created by that, that deal with our security, and from my own perspective on the Armed Services Committee that there’s certainly a security component to this as well.”

Construction plans at the Brayton Point Commerce Center include dockside heavy lift cranes, a crane building featuring two 100-ton cranes and an HVDC converter station. The Commerce Center will also utilize an already available deep-water port with a 34-foot depth capable of berthing large trans-Atlantic vessels.

Keating says the federal delegation is “hitting on many fronts.”

“First, with tax cuts that are there for offshore wind that have helped that industry grow, which will be one of the anchors we have in the area as the first industrial-scale offshore wind facility in the country. We’re working on economic development administration grants, which we received here,” Keating explained.

While Brayton Point will support the offshore wind industry as well as other types of renewable energy, owners and operators of the Commerce Center are also offering an opportunity to outside businesses to purchase waterfront industrial real estate. Brayton Point will also continue to operate as a logistical port, strategically positioned to receive, transport, store and distribute bulk material and shipments.

Services at the Brayton Point Commerce Center will include stevedoring, crane and barge rentals, port-to-port service, tug services, transport and trucking services, the distribution and breaking down of bulk materials, bulk cargo stockpiling and distribution, warehousing, on-barge services, a specialty lift. It will also continue to offer foreign trade zone availability.

“It’s all about New Bedford, it’s all about the region and it’s all about southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. It’s about coming together about a shared economic future that I think is tremendously exciting. It’s about trying to gather political efforts, federal resources, local and state resources to try and power what’s already happening on the ground,” Kennedy said.

“The extra resources that have come in that have helped lead to this presentation today indicate that we have an extremely bright and exciting future here. We just want to make sure the policies and incentives are structured the right way.”

Brayton Point Commerce Center is a combination of Pangaea Logistics and Carver Maritime operating as Patriot Stevedoring + Logistics.

Construction is expected to be completed as early as 2020.

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