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Massachusetts Awards $180M in Grants for Wind Port Infrastructure

Massachusetts offshore wind port funding
Rendering of Crowley's planned port facility in Salem to support offshore wind development (Crowley)

Published Dec 22, 2022 6:33 PM by The Maritime Executive

Massachusetts awarded funding to expand and develop port infrastructure at three key harbors in support of the developing offshore wind industry. As part of the state’s Offshore Wind Ports Infrastructure Investment Challenge, a competitive funding opportunity opened earlier in the year, they announced the awarding of a total of $180 million in grants, including $135 million which is being invested in port redevelopment projects for in the Cities of New Bedford and Salem, and the Town of Somerset, as well as funding for the state-owned New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal for capital improvements.

“Massachusetts’ path to Net Zero in 2050 requires substantial investments in offshore wind, and today we are taking another giant step forward in achieving a clean energy future through the $180 million Offshore Wind Ports Infrastructure Investment Challenge,” said Governor Charlie Baker. During the presentation, they emphasized that the projects will have a significant impact on the advancement of the sector, as well as capture high-value supply chain and workforce opportunities for the state.

The outgoing governor, whose term in office ends in two weeks, also used the opportunity to highlight Massachusetts’ role in the developing offshore wind infrastructure landscape. They highlighted MassCEC’s Wind Technology Testing Center in the City of Boston’s Charlestown neighborhood, which is one of only six facilities in the world capable of fatigue testing the latest in blade technology. MassCEC is also developing the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal as a purpose-built offshore wind port.

Vineyard Wind, which is one of the first offshore wind farms under construction in the United States, will commence its lease of the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal in January 2023. The project along with its contractors and suppliers will begin operations at the construction base port for the offshore work to develop the Vineyard project. Mayflower Wind will also have a lease for the Terminal, committing the facility to projects through most of 2027.

The largest of the new awards, $75 million, is going to Crowley Wind Services and the City of Salem for the conversion of a former coal-fired power plant industrial property in Salem into a purpose-built offshore wind marshaling port. MassCEC and Salem will take ownership of the site and lease it back to Crowley to operate the wind port.

Two of the awards are for projects in Somerset. Prysmian Projects North America received $25 million for the redevelopment of part of the Brayton Point Marine Commerce Center to construct a manufacturing facility and terminal for marine high-voltage cables. In addition, Gladding Hearn Shipbuilding receives $360,800 for shipyard upgrades to enable the local facility to fabricate and repair aluminum high-speed crew transfer vessels for Vineyard Wind, Mayflower Wind, and other projects.

In New Bedford, the Port Authority received $15 million for the improvement of its North Terminal 1 port facility, with bulkhead and terminal space, and the modernization of port-wide operations to efficiently manage increased vessel traffic. There was an additional $15 million for the redevelopment of the former Sprague/Eversource power plant into the New Bedford Foss Marine Terminal. This will create the capacity to support operations and construction activities, with a new heavy-lift quayside, laydown space, and berthing for feeder barges and service operations. 

Shoreline Marine Terminals will also receive $4.6 million for the build-out of marine terminals with a new bulkhead, docking space, lift piers, fueling capacity, and other infrastructure which will support the day-to-day operations of offshore wind crew transfer and other vessels for vessel maintenance and repairs in the port of New Bedford.  Also in New Bedford, the state agency MassCEC receives $45 million for facility improvements at the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal to ensure it can accommodate the current and future offshore wind projects.

The awarding of these key grants for the infrastructure comes as the state is also facing its latest challenge in the development of its offshore wind resources. Avagrid last week filed with the state regulators to walk away from the Commonwealth Wind project south of Martha’s Vineyard. The developed said inflation and changing market conditions made the price purchase agreements negotiated in early 2022 unworkable and the project uneconomical. They are calling for a rebidding of the project in the spring of 2023 releasing the company from its current obligation to develop one of the state’s first offshore wind properties. Governor Baker’s administration had refused the company’s calls to reopen the negotiations for the power purchase agreements.