Healey Announces Major Climate Funding in New Bedford
Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey and Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll visited the Marine Commerce Terminal at the Port of New Bedford Thursday morning to announce the administration's major investments in climate resiliency.
The Marine Commerce Terminal is a facility that is designed to support the construction, assembly and deployment of offshore wind projects, as well as handle specialty marine cargo.
"This will be the launching pad of America's first industrial-scale offshore wind project. The first real power plant in U.S. waters," New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell said.
Along with Mitchell, the Governor and Lt. Governor were accompanied by State Representatives Tony Cabral, Paul Schmid, Chris Hendricks, and Chris Markey; New Bedford City Councilors Scott Lima and Naomi Carney; Mass. Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Rebecca Tepper; Climate Chief Melissa Hoffer; Mass Clean Energy Center CEO Jennifer Daloisio; and leaders in the offshore wind industry.
At the terminal, Governor Healey announced that the administration's budget commits $35 million to the operating budget of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, a state economic development agency committed to fostering growth in the clean energy sector.
With combined funding from the supplemental budget, the MassCEC will now see its funding tripled.
Healey said they have also committed one percent of the their more than $55 billion state budget to the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
After announcing the funding, Healey remarked on the potential of offshore wind as an economic driver.
"These are exactly the kinds of projects and this is exactly the kind of mission we're talking about, when I talk about building a climate corridor," Healey said. "A climate corridor that, by the way, can stretch from North Adams all the way to New Bedford, and everywhere in between."
"Because while the climate crisis is our greatest threat, there's also a tremendous opportunity for Massachusetts," she said.
Driscoll then took the podium to break down how the one percent budget commitment to the Exec. Office Energy and Environmental Affairs will be allocated: $70 million for environmental justice for communities bearing a disproportionate impact by climate change; $40 million toward a clean energy climate plan to help Massachusetts reach a net zero emissions; $25 million in food insecurity infrastructure grants; and $5 million to protect drought, coastal erosion and flooding.
Driscoll also remarked on the important role Hoffer will play as the first-in-the-nation state level cabinet position of Climate Chief in coordinating climate resiliency efforts across all state agencies.
"Because we know climate change impacts all aspects of our lives, education, transportation, workforce, healthcare, and more," Driscoll said.
After the announcement, Healey was asked by WBSM if she is supportive of the proposal by Westport Senator and Chairman of Ways and Means Michael Rodrigues that offshore wind companies like Avangrid to be banned from bidding on any future projects in the state if they terminate their current offshore wind contract.
"I think what's important is that we have a process that's competitive and does everything we can to get things online," Healey said. "And there are a lot of factors to consider. Experience is certainly something that we'll consider."
"The important thing is that we move along with these processes so we're able to create wind here as quickly as possible," she said.
Avangrid spokesperson Craig Gilvarg later told WBSM that the company's track record shows a commitment to bringing offshore wind to the Commonwealth.
“We remain committed to delivering clean offshore wind energy to help Massachusetts meet its climate goals, as demonstrated by the current construction of Avangrid’s Vineyard Wind 1 project, which is on track to deliver energy by the end of 2023," Gilvarg said. "We are working with all stakeholders to find private and public solutions to the global price increases outside of our control, and believe the best path forward to deliver Commonwealth Wind is in the termination of the current contracts and moving forward in the next offshore wind procurement.”