NEW BEDFORD - Though their final destination will be 35-miles out to sea, offshore wind turbines have moved a step closer to being manufactured right here in New Bedford.

Mayor Jon Mitchell joined representatives of Deepwater Wind on Friday to announce that the offshore wind developer will establish a significant construction and long-term operations center at the city's Marine Commerce Terminal if approved by Massachusetts utilities in January.

Deepwater Wind estimates that the construction of the operations center will directly create approximately 700 regional construction jobs. Deepwater also says that hundreds of additional indirect jobs will be created in New Bedford to support operations of the Revolution Wind project.

“Today we mark a milestone that is further evidence, very compelling evidence, that this is all becoming very real here,” Mayor Jon Mitchell said in a press conference. “That's real investments and real commitment by real, well-financed companies to plant their flag right here in New Bedford.”

Senior Vice President of Deepwater Wind Matt Morrissey announced that the company is seeking out suitable sites in the harbor for vessel dockage and an operations and maintenance facility. He also announced the company will pay annual fees of $5.5 million to the state and $500,000 annually to the City of New Bedford for the use of the port facilities.

The arrival of Deepwater Wind's operations to the Whaling City will primarily support the Revolution Wind project, the 144-megawatt, 24-turbine offshore wind farm which the company expects to be 35-miles south of New Bedford.

“This project-at 144 megawatts and 24 turbines only represents 20% of our large lease area 35- miles from here. The Deepwater lease area is 250 square miles in the northeast,” said Morrissey.

Port Director Ed Anthes-Washburn says that with commercial fishing as New Bedford's top-grossing industry, offshore wind developers need to work hand-in-hand with commercial fisheries to prevent future complications. Washburn also argues that the commercial fishing industry could grow alongside offshore wind.

"It's very important to ensure that we have the right communication and the right interaction with the fishing industry, and that's where I really think the fishing industry can grow along an offshore wind industry," said Washburn. “If we can mitigate the concerns ahead of time with the commercial fishing industry I really do think that offshore wind could have a huge impact.”

Deepwater Wind is America's only offshore wind developer and only company operating an offshore wind farm in the United States. The company's Block Island wind farm began operations in December 2016 and is currently developing two more wind farms in Long Island and Maryland.

The Revolution Wind project is expected to be decided on by utilities and state regulators in January 2018. If approved, any local construction work on Revolution Wind would begin in 2022 with operations starting in 2023.

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