Massachusetts Plans $100M Investment in Wind Ports 

Massachusetts increases investment into wind ports
Rendering of Crowley's planned operations at Salem to support the Commonwealth Wind project (Crowley)

Published May 19, 2022 6:42 PM by The Maritime Executive

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker committed the state to invest $100 million into the development of three ports to support the rapid growth of the offshore wind sector. He highlighted the success with the start of the Vineyard Wind project saying that the state would move to accelerate the development of ports and projects in New Bedford, Salem, and Somerset to ensure that his state remains at the forefront of the emerging industry.

"As this offshore wind industry continues to grow, we have to make sure that Massachusetts remains a strong place to build infrastructure that aligns with our goals to be a global leader in this space," Baker said, "especially as the cost of projects continues to rise with supply chain delays and this minor thing we call 'inflation.'"

With work getting underway for the Vineyard Wind project which is expected to be online by the end of 2023, the governor and his officials pointed out that New Bedford’s current marshaling yard is already overloaded with work. New Bedford currently has a 29-acre heavy lift facility designed to support the construction, assembly, and development of offshore wind projects. 

"The fact that this is one of the deepest deep-water ports naturally anywhere on the East Coast... that all by itself creates huge opportunities here," Baker said in a press event in Salem detailing his plans for a $1.7 billion supplemental budget for Massachusetts. The plan calls for building out the ports and supporting new facilities as the state’s first wind projects get underway as well as with the broader goal of playing a longer-term role as other projects proceed along the U.S. East Coast. Massachusetts would be competing with New York City which is using Brooklyn’s South Marine Terminal to support offshore wind and New Jersey which is building its dedicated wind port for the industry.

Salem is set to become the state’s second major offshore wind port and the governor looks to speed the development with $45 million from his supplemental budget. The money would be used to support the plan for a second major marshaling yard to be located in Salem to initially support the Commonwealth Wind project. Salem was designated for the assembly and marshaling for the project. City officials estimate that it will cost a total of $180 million to complete the project so that it can be open by 2025. They will look to use the state funds to encourage additional support from state and federal grants.

Massachusetts’s secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs pointed out the need for more space to support the industry. Bethany Card said that there is currently only one facility to test blades for the offshore wind farms. She said the creation of the new facility in Salem would add an important capability.

Vineyard Wind and the City of Salem with Crowley Maritime previously entered into an agreement to develop facilities at Salem. Similarly, at New Bedford, Foss Maritime committed to the development of a maritime terminal to support offshore operations. In Somerset, there is a plan to develop the state’s first offshore wind manufacturing facility for subsea transmission cables.

Vineyard Wind welcomed the news of the plans to invest in the state’s port facilities. Chief Development Officer Rachel Pachter said the investment in port infrastructure is critically important to the success of the offshore wind industry. 

In recent months several studies have highlighted the shortage of ports and onshore facilities to support the development of the planned wind farms. The shipbuilding industry is benefitting from the efforts with multiple contracts for new support vessels, but the studies point to a shortage of ports and manufacturing facilities to reach the goal of 30 GW of offshore power by 2030.