Officials see steady stream of offshore wind projects for city terminal

NEW BEDFORD — State and local officials Wednesday said the newly announced offshore wind leasing area will likely provide a pipeline of potential projects for the planned New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal.

The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, in partnership with state officials, released a "request for interest" Tuesday to determine where in the 3,000-square-mile area developers might want to build projects.

The multimillion-dollar terminal, which was announced earlier this year, is designed specifically to support the installation of offshore wind projects; Cape Wind, the nation's first offshore wind farm, will use the terminal as its staging port.

"We've got a comprehensive strategy to make sure Massachusetts is the leader in this area," said state Secretary for Energy and Environmental Affairs Ian Bowles.

"Governor (Deval) Patrick's made the New Bedford port a real priority, and it would certainly be something that is top of mind for us."

While the leasing process will ultimately be handled at the federal level, limiting the state's ability to put conditions on the process, Bowles said he thinks the New Bedford terminal will be a natural fit for any projects built in the leasing area.

Additionally, the announcement of the leasing area signals Massachusetts' commitment to and support of the offshore wind industry beyond just the Cape Wind project, Bowles said.
That commitment is critical in helping attract to the state companies in the broader offshore wind supply chain, such as Siemens, according to Bowles.

"What we have always felt about this opportunity is that it is the catalyst for other opportunities," said Matthew Morrissey, executive director of the New Bedford Economic Development Council.

Negotiations to secure the final parcel needed for the approximately 20-acre terminal are on track, Morrissey said, and construction on the terminal is expected to start in June.

Source: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20101230/NEWS/12300372/-1/NEWSMAP

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