Port Director: Offshore Wind Decision ‘Whole Lot Bigger’ Than Fishermen Expected
NEW BEDFORD — The fishing industry is keeping a close and cautious eye on the state's decision to award Vineyard Wind the chance to build Massachusetts' first offshore wind farm.
In April, representatives from the fishing community sent a letter to Governor Charlie Baker asking for the first offshore wind farm to be limited to just 400 megawatts, in order to first measure its impact on a smaller scale.
Instead, Vineyard Wind was selected to provide 800 megawatts, half of Massachusetts' total planned procurement of 1,600 megawatts. But in a real surprise to everyone, the state of Rhode Island decided to offer runner-up Deepwater Wind the chance to provide 400 megawatts of offshore wind power for that state.
"I don't think anybody knew that Rhode Island was also in the running for an additional 400 megawatts. I think the fishing industry was generally pretty surprised with (that)," New Bedford Port Authority Director Ed Anthes-Washburn told WBSM News. "I think there was always the option of two projects happening at once, but I don't think anybody, including myself, thought there would be more than 800 megawatts, and now there's 1200 megawatts. So it's a lot bigger with two whole big projects."
Anthes-Washburn said it's also going to provide the framework for future wind farms going forward, so it's important to get things right.
"It's going to be incumbent upon the state, the federal government and the developers to ensure that the science is robust enough to understand what the impact will be on the fishing industry," Anthes-Washburn said. "They've got to get a baseline study before the turbines go in, and see what the impact of construction has on the fisheries and other natural resources, and then what the impact will be post-construction."
He did say, though, that with all the construction, the port of New Bedford is going to be a very busy place.
"I don't want to understate the impact of the construction project," he said. "With 100-plus windmills going up, the port will be a busy place for the next few years, certainly."