Vineyard Wind inks staging-ground lease in New Bedford

Developer will handle much of the onshore deployment work for its 800MW Massachusetts offshore wind project out of New Bedford

Vineyard Wind, the US offshore wind developer with a contracted 800MW project off Massachusetts, has signed a lease agreement to make New Bedford’s Marine Commerce Terminal its primary staging and deployment location.

While expected, the signing of the lease solidifies New Bedford’s – and Massachusetts’ – lead in the intensifying race among eastern US states to secure the offshore wind supply chain and its attendant jobs.

Vineyard – owned by Avangrid and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners – is itself based in New Bedford, a seafaring city along Massachusetts’ southern Coast. Vineyard’s project is located 14 miles (23km) south of Martha’s Vineyard.

Massachusetts invested heavily into the Marine Commerce Terminal, transforming it into a tailor-made offshore wind facility, albeit one that has spent much of the past few years waiting for its first big job in the sector.

It appeared that time was finally nigh when Vineyard earlier this year prevailed with an 800MW bid in Massachusetts’ first offshore wind request for proposal. Vineyard has signed an 18-month lease for the facility at a rate of $6m annually.

Vineyard eyes supply chain as 800MW project comes into focus

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Designed using lessons learned from European offshore wind ports like Esbjerg, Denmark, the MCT encompasses a 29-acre site with a heavy-lift facility built specifically for the cranes and very heavy loads of the 10MW+ turbines of the future. The MCT is owned by the state of Massachusetts.

The state hopes that Vineyard's initial lease will be followed by others, and that the site will also attract offshore wind manufacturers. However, the MCT is not large enough to host all of the staging work needed for the first wave of big US offshore projects, leaving the door open to other ports and states.

Vineyard plans to reach financial close at its project and cement most of the major supply-chain decisions in 2019; begin offshore construction in 2020; and bring the 800MW on line over the course of two phases in 2021 and 2022. The timing is critical because the project's economics hinge in part on the fading investment tax credit.

Signed into law in 2016, Massachusetts’ 1.6GW offshore wind mandate for 2027 lit a fire under the entire US offshore wind market, with other states including New York and New Jersey following with their own multi-gigawatt goals and mandates.

A variety of other US states and cities are hoping to mirror the success of New Bedford in luring offshore wind operators – among them Paulsboro, New Jersey; Brooklyn, New York; New London, Connecticut; Baltimore, Maryland; and the Hampton Roads region of Virginia.

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