More than two years after the Patrick administration committed to a $35 million New Bedford marine terminal project to serve as a staging area for Cape Wind, state officials are now talking up a complex, $100 million project while the developers of the offshore wind farm have held talks with Rhode Island about using that state as a project assembly area.
In New Bedford in October 2010, Governor Deval Patrick announced that a multipurpose terminal would be built there to support offshore wind efforts, with construction costs estimated at $35 million, and said the new pier would capture 600 to 1,000 Cape Wind jobs.
Two weeks ago, in announcing federal environmental approvals, the Patrick administration placed the project’s cost at $100 million, and proponents hailed its potential to serve the offshore wind industry with less focus on jobs specific to the Cape Wind project, in the planning phases for more than a decade , despite constant opposition from its critics.
In an interview Tuesday, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan acknowledged Massachusetts and Rhode Island are battling for the Cape Wind jobs and said Massachusetts is not looking to sweeten its infrastructure effort with loans or grants. “There absolutely is a competition,” he said. “You have a lot of states that are looking at offshore wind.”
Sullivan said the New Bedford marine terminal project’s construction remains at around $35 million but additional costs associated with dredging, land acquisition, site assembly, and environmental remediation raise the overall cost to $100 million.
Cape Wind spokesman Mark Rodgers declined to comment on talks between the offshore wind developer and Rhode Island officials. Aides to Governor Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island did not return a call seeking information about Cape Wind, which has won numerous approvals needed to build a wind farm in Nantucket Sound.
Rhode Island officials are positioning the Quonset Business Park in North Kingstown, a 3,200-acre tract 4 miles south of Route 95, to become a hub for the renewable energy industry. Officials say projects underway there account for $170 million in private investment, with plans for Deepwater Wind at Quonset to make the park its regional headquarters and staging and assembly facility. Park overseers say Alterra Energy Services has also proposed building a renewable alternative fuel facility there.
State Senator Mark C. Montigny and Representative Antonio Cabral, both of whom represent New Bedford, recently acknowledged Cape Wind’s talks with Rhode Island over a staging area in Quonset, according to New England Cable News. NECN quoted a Cape Wind spokesman saying it was an open question whether the New Bedford terminal would be ready, in part because of slow permitting, in time for Cape Wind’s needs.
Representative Robert Koczera, a New Bedford Democrat, said Wednesday that his city is in a good position to win the Cape Wind jobs and, like Sullivan, emphasized the terminal’s long-term benefits, apart from Cape Wind, to serve the cargo, fishing, shipping, and developing offshore wind industries.
While describing wind energy as the impetus for the Patrick administration’s investment in the terminal, Koczera said it is possible Cape Wind could use staging areas in both states. “With Cape Wind, they want to make sure that whatever site they use, that it will be a site that’s ready,” he said.
With the EPA approvals in hand, Sullivan said he expects the New Bedford project to go out to bid in the coming weeks, with bidders given 45 to 60 days to respond. He estimated construction would require 19 months to complete, which means the terminal project would be finished in late 2014.