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Baker outlines plans to beef up ports to develop offshore wind farms

Job growth in Massachusetts’s clean energy sector is continuing, but at a slower pace.

A fishing boat passes a lighthouse on its way towards the entrance of the New Bedford Harbor under afternoon clouds. On Tuesday, the Baker administration announced $75 million in funding for infrastructure projects in New Bedford related to the state's offshore wind industry.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

The Baker administration on Tuesday announced $180 million in infrastructure funding for projects designed to support the state’s burgeoning offshore wind industry.

In a press conference held at the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center Wind Technology Testing Center in Charlestown, Governor Charlie Baker and top climate aides also provided updates on the state’s clean energy industry, which has been a priority for Baker during his tenure on Beacon Hill.

“I’m proud of the work we’ve done over the past 8 years, but it remains an urgent priority for the Commonwealth, for the country, and frankly, for the world,” said Baker. “I do believe, however, we are very well positioned to be a major player in this space.”

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“To get from where we are to where we need to go — believe it or not — things have to change,” added Baker.

The $180 million — which came from a state economic development bill passed this year and federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act — will be divvied up among several projects in different parts of the state.

In New Bedford, there’s $15 million to help finance the New Bedford Port Authority’s expansion of its north terminal, $45 million for facility improvements for the MassCEC New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal, and $15 million toward the New Bedford Foss Marine Terminal for the redevelopment of offshore construction, operations, and management support. $4.6 million will go to Shoreline Marine Terminal for their buildout of marine terminals for new berthing space, bulkheads, and lift piers.

In Somerset, the Prysmian Group will get $25 million for the construction of a manufacturing facility and terminal at Brayton Point, while Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding will receive $360,000 for shipyard upgrades enabling the facility to fabricate and repair vessels working on Vineyard Wind and Mayflower Wind in waters south of Martha’s Vineyard.

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And in Salem, north of Boston, $75 million will go to Crowley Maritime to convert a vacant industrial port into a wind terminal.

There was also a focus on the economic impact of the offshore wind industry. The pandemic wiped out 20,000 jobs in the clean energy sector, but as of September, 65 percent of these have come back, said Jennifer Daloisio, the CEO of the MassCEC. Daloisio added that the clean energy industry had generated more than $14 billion in state economic activity in 2021, and accounts for about 104,000 jobs — a 73 percent increase since 2010.

While job growth in the clean energy sector is still growing, it is to be doing so at a slower clip than in years past, adding about 3,000 jobs over the past year compared to approximately 10,000 between 2014 and 2015.

Developing the state’s offshore wind industry has been a goal of Baker’s for much of his tenure. In 2016, he signed a bill into law mandating that the state’s big utilities sign long-term contracts with offshore wind-farm developers. Since then, a number of wind farm projects have sprung up in the state, like Mayflower Wind, but patent snags and supply chain issues have delayed development on other projects.

Last week, Avangrid told the state it was backing out of contracts to develop the Commonwealth Wind project, citing rising construction costs; state officials are expected to re-bid that project next year.

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Dana Gerber can be reached at dana.gerber@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @danagerber6.