NEW BEDFORD – Vineyard wind hit financial close on Wednesday after securing $ 2.3 billion for construction, meaning the next phase of the project can fully begin: hiring workers and making deals with contractors and suppliers.
Local, state and federal officials have touted how the project will create jobs for local communities and be a boon to the local economy. Vineyard Wind CEO Lars T. Pedersen echoed the sentiment, saying the company has “a great interest” in developing parts of the supply chain locally.
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“With the signing of these agreements, we now have everything in place to begin construction, launching an industry that will immediately begin to create jobs and make a significant contribution to meeting Massachusetts’ carbon pollution reduction goals,” Pedersen said in a statement.
The wind company has in partnership with the New Bedford Ocean Cluster (NBOC), a new nonprofit led by former New Bedford Mayor John Bullard for an initiative that matches local businesses with key suppliers who will need products and services.
A program registration survey lists dozens of possible services that can be part of the supply chain for construction, installation, engineering, manufacturing, transportation and consulting.
The initiative is designed to “maximize the positive economic impacts of the Vineyard Wind 1 project in the greater New Bedford area by encouraging the participation of local businesses in the offshore wind industry,” according to a press release.
The NBOC and Pedersen both used the term “matchmaking” to describe the process.
“We are asking our suppliers to get in touch with New Bedford Ocean Cluster to match existing businesses in New Bedford or along the south coast so they can start building a supply chain of high quality. ‘level 2 and 3 entrepreneurs,’ said Pedersen, noting that some of these efforts have already started.
Level 1 of the supply chain includes larger companies like General Electric, the turbine supplier; Jan De Nul Group, the supplier and installer of cables; and DEME Offshore US LLC, the contractor for the offshore transportation and installation of turbines, said Andrew Doba, spokesperson for Vineyard Wind.
Level 2 could contain local businesses that have the capabilities to work with a supplier like General Electric and provide a range of services and materials. Level 3 is an extension of Level 2, Doba said, and it could contain services ranging from event catering to hotel stays.
Bullard, chairman of NBOC, said the nonprofit and wind company would take its first “concrete” step for the initiative this week with a meeting in New Bedford with community leaders.
The goal is to get the word out to businesses in the New Bedford area and make sure they know about the different offering opportunities and what will be expected or required, Bullard said.
“It’s not as simple as ‘Oh I just need to go bid on something,'” he said. “You may need certificates, licenses, or training.”
Bullard did not specify which community leaders were invited, but that it would be a “dozen or more” people. Their role will be to help reach businesses in the New Bedford area capable of supporting offshore wind, he said.
In October, Vineyard Wind and NBOC will host a second event at the Marine Commerce Terminal, which Bullard described as a “meet the buyer” event where people can learn about the preparation required to participate in the industry.
As for local jobs, Vineyard Wind and the Southeastern Massachusetts Building Trades Council signed a working agreement on the project at the terminal this summer. The agreement, celebrated by many officials and union leaders, guarantees at least 500 union jobs for the construction and installation of the project.
When asked whether Vineyard Wind is actively ensuring that its subcontractors and suppliers also adopt an ‘act locally’ mindset – or whether it will be for subcontractors and suppliers to decide – Pedersen said that Vineyard Wind has played an active role and that he believes other companies share the same interest.
“My feeling from our Tier 1 suppliers is that they see it the same way,” he said. “I think it’s going to happen, it’s hard to say, but of course local businesses have to be prepared to provide the services at the right price, at the right quality at the right time.”
“It’s not like we’re saying we’ll buy a service, but we’re trying to qualify the existing local supply chain to deliver in this new industry,” Pedersen said. “We hope that many local businesses will try to get into this industry.”
Responding to the announcement of Vineyard Wind’s financial close, Mayor Jon Mitchell tweeted: “#newbedford in the meantime is stepping up to support the launch next year.”
Pedersen said in May that significant offshore wind activity in New Bedford Harbor will begin in 2022 and that the city’s marine trade terminal will be “very, very busy” by 2023 – the year Vineyard Wind predicts. to start supplying energy to the state.
In anticipation of local activity, Mitchell previously said the city and the port authority will need to develop a ship management plan and modernize the port infrastructure.
The project will generate electricity for more than 400,000 homes and businesses in the state, create 3,600 jobs, save taxpayers $ 1.4 billion in the first 20 years of operation and reduce carbon emissions by over 1.6 million tonnes per year, according to Vineyard Wind. The turbines will be located approximately 15 miles from the coast of Martha’s Vineyard.
The group continues:The fishing group’s challenges fueled the review of the offshore wind project
The Vineyard Wind project is the subject of two federal lawsuits. The most recent was filed by the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance – a coalition of commercial fishermen and other groups in the fishing industry – against the federal agency responsible for approving and authorizing the Vineyard Wind project.
Standard-Times reporter Anastasia E. Lennon can be reached at [email protected] You can follow her on Twitter at @ aelennon1. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Standard-Times today.