SALEM, A LATECOMER to the scramble for offshore wind business, snagged a deal on Thursday with Vineyard Wind, which promised to help make the North Shore community the state’s second major wind port if the company wins an upcoming power contract.
The deal, announced in Salem at a press conference with Mayor Kim Driscoll and local legislators, would have Vineyard Wind serve as the anchor tenant for a new port facility offering offshore wind developers space for turbine assembly, staging, and storage. Salem could accommodate large wind turbine installation vessels because it has a deepwater port with unrestricted access – no hurricane barrier like New Bedford or bridges limiting ocean access to and from Fall River and Somerset’s Brayton Point.
The Salem announcement is another sign of how offshore wind companies are competing for business in Massachusetts. Massachusetts is prioritizing price in the bidding process, but there is an economic development component as well, and developers are trying to check that box.
Two developers are bidding on the latest procurement – for as much as 1,600 megawatts.
Vineyard Wind linked up with Salem in its bid while Mayflower Wind offered to locate an operations and maintenance operation in Fall River and bring its electricity ashore at Brayton Point, where it would build a capital-intensive facility to adapt the electricity for use on the New England power grid.
Neither deal is transformative. Mayflower’s Fall River operations are expected to be relatively small, in terms of employees, while Vineyard Wind’s deal with Salem would yield construction jobs while the port is re-engineered for offshore wind and additional jobs during the operational phase. Vineyard Wind didn’t provide any job estimates, but said a total of 900 full time equivalent job years would be created over five years.
The Salem plan calls for Crowley Maritime Corp. to purchase 42 acres of land from Footprint Power, the company that tore down a coal-fired power plant at the site and built a much smaller natural gas-fired facility there. Crowley will manage the offshore wind operation, working initially with Vineyard Wind, a partnership of Avangrid Renewables and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners.
Vineyard Wind has not disclosed yet where it would bring electricity ashore if it wins a new contract.
Lars Pedersen, the CEO of Vineyard Wind, issued a statement saying that awarding a power contract to his company would ensure that both New Bedford and Salem – the South Coast and the North Shore – will benefit from offshore wind.