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TALKING POINTS

Mass. group betting big on offshore wind

Jessica Rinaldi/Globe staff/File 2013

Three developers with lease rights for waters south of Martha’s Vineyard are now vying for contracts for offshore wind.

By Jon Chesto Globe Staff 

The New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal once looked like a costly gamble. The state-backed $113 million project was built to accommodate a new industry: offshore wind energy. But its first big tenant, Cape Wind, canceled a lease after financing fell apart, leaving it largely idle.

Now, the quasipublic Massachusetts Clean Energy Center is getting ready for the opposite problem: too much demand.

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The game changed because of a 2016 state law that requires Eversource and National Grid to buy vast amounts of offshore wind. Three developers with lease rights for waters south of Martha’s Vineyard are now vying for those contracts. They are using the New Bedford terminal to dock research boats, though it is still losing money.

Maybe not for much longer. MassCEC chief executive Stephen Pike says the terminal can’t provide all the space developers and suppliers will need once construction begins. So his group commissioned a $250,000 report to map out other prime locations. The report, released Tuesday, identifies 18 sites and details how various components — the blades, cables, and foundations — could be completed at them.

The MassCEC will use this report to pitch the properties — clustered in New Bedford, Fall River/Somerset and Boston/Quincy. It’s akin to the roundup that state officials sent to Amazon for the HQ2 competition, though this one is limited to industrial port land (the former Fore River Shipyard appears in both pitches).

Pike’s team is also looking beyond Massachusetts. MassCEC executives hope to position this state as the go-to place for wind farm work, with components eventually assembled here and shipped to various spots up and down the East Coast.


Jon Chesto can be reached at jon.chesto@globe.com
and on Twitter @jonchesto.