The Baker-Polito Administration announced $721,500 in grants to six academic institutions and labor organizations to establish workforce training and development programs to support the state’s emerging offshore wind industry. The awards, which include a $200,000 commitment from Vineyard Wind’s Windward Workforce Fund, represent a significant investment to grow a workforce in the Commonwealth to meet the needs of the emergent offshore wind industry — including the construction and operation of Vineyard Wind’s 800-MW project.
The offshore wind farm was selected by the Commonwealth’s Electric Distribution Companies in May, 2018 under the state’s first competitive procurement for offshore wind. The programs will be located at institutions in Barnstable, Bourne, Fall River, New Bedford, Newton and Martha’s Vineyard.
“The historic and bipartisan energy legislation signed in 2016 put Massachusetts in position to build the first large-scale offshore wind project in the United States and continue our leadership as a hub for the offshore wind industry on the East Coast,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “As we prepare for the construction and installation of offshore wind projects, these grants will help establish a network of critical training programs in the Commonwealth to support local workers as they build this new frontier for American energy.”
The six training programs will include basic safety and technical training to internationally recognized standards and address a diverse mix of workforce training target areas, such as career introduction courses, and technician and professional certificates. They will also offer targeted support for the Vineyard Wind project and future offshore wind construction.
“Growing a workforce for the construction, installation, and operation of offshore wind will create opportunities for Massachusetts residents to take advantage of the thousands of jobs created by this emerging industry,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “We are pleased to collaborate with Vineyard Wind, the offshore wind industry, our local colleges, and organized labor to pioneer these programs for worker safety and technical training.”
In March 2019, the Massachusetts distribution companies jointly submitted a request for approval of the second Request for Proposals for offshore wind energy with the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities.
“The Baker-Polito Administration is committed to meeting Massachusetts’ greenhouse gas reductions goals, and offshore wind will be an essential part of a diverse, resilient, affordable energy portfolio,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “Through strategic partnerships with the offshore wind industry, and our academic and workforce training institutions, these programs will provide the necessary training and credentials required for Massachusetts workers to pioneer this industry in the United States.”
The institutions receiving funding are:
- Bristol Community College (BCC) – $200,000 to establish basic safety training (BST) and basic technical training (BTT) to Global Wind Organization (GWO) standards at its campus in New Bedford.
- Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA) – $184,000 to establish all five modules of GWO basic safety training at its campus and develop an “introduction to offshore wind” course for MMA cadets. A crew transfer training facility, supported by MassCEC, will be operational in summer 2019.
- UMass Amherst – $105, 500 to complete initial design and develop most of an offshore wind professional certificate program to be offered at the Mt. Ida campus in Newton.
- Pile Drivers and Divers Local 56 – $100,000 to sponsor trade union members for GWO basic safety training at Massachusetts Maritime Academy.
- Cape Cod Community College – $66,570 to develop and deliver a suite of courses to introduce students and workers to careers in offshore wind.
- Adult Continuing Education – Martha’s Vineyard (ACE MV) – $65,000 to partner with BCC and MMA to provide on-island courses and training that supports basic safety and technical certification, as well as offshore wind technician certificates.
In April 2018, MassCEC released a report on the workforce needs and economic impact of the emerging offshore wind industry, finding that the deployment of 1,600 MW of offshore wind is estimated to support between 2,300 and 3,100 direct job years over the next 10 years and generate a total economic impact in Massachusetts of between $678 to $805 million.
“The offshore wind industry is poised to create new renewable energy jobs, and these programs represent an important development as the Commonwealth readies for the first large-scale project in the nation,” said MassCEC CEO Stephen Pike. “With Massachusetts’ proud maritime heritage, robust innovation economy and academic and training assets, the state is very well-positioned to grow a workforce that will contribute to this new American industry for years to come.”
Constructed and operated by the MassCEC, the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal is a 29-acre heavy-lift facility designed to support the construction, assembly, and deployment of offshore wind projects, as well as handle bulk, break-bulk, container, and large specialty marine cargo.
The first port in North America specifically built to support the staging and deployment of offshore wind components, the terminal has been engineered to sustain mobile crane and storage loads that rival the highest capacity ports in the world. In October 2018, MassCEC and Vineyard Wind agreed to an 18-month lease to use the terminal as the primary staging and deployment location for its offshore wind project.
This funding builds upon the Baker-Polito Administration’s ongoing efforts to support the Commonwealth’s vibrant clean energy industry, including recently securing 9,450,000 MWh of hydroelectric energy and 800 MW of offshore wind energy, the largest procurement in offshore wind by any state in the country.
In August, Governor Baker signed legislation that will ensure Massachusetts remains a national leader in clean energy while reducing costs to ratepayers. The bill, An Act to Advance Clean Energy (H.4857), includes the Governor’s proposal to create the first Clean Peak Standard in the country, increases the Commonwealth’s energy storage target to 1,000 megawatt-hours (MWh), increases the Renewable Portfolio Standard, expands the Mass Save programs to allow for strategic electrification and other clean energy technologies, and authorizes the Department of Energy Resources to require an additional 1,600 MW of offshore wind to be procured by the electric distribution companies in Massachusetts.
“Vineyard Wind is proud to support this significant next step forward in preparing Massachusetts workers for construction of the nation’s first commercial scale offshore wind farm,” said Vineyard Wind Chief Development Officer Erich Stephens. “The programs announced today provide a strong foundation to our commitment that every Massachusetts’ resident will have a meaningful opportunity to access careers in the Commonwealth’s newest industry, offshore wind.”
“This grant will be used by Bristol Community College to train students for necessary positions in the emerging offshore wind industry,” added State Senator Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford). “I have always seen the offshore wind industry as an economic driver for our region that could one day provide significant employment opportunities. This is why we in the legislature have spent many years working with the Governor to secure millions of dollars in state funding for infrastructure and to pass landmark legislation to position New Bedford as a leader in the industry. As a result New Bedford is now positioned for a major economic boom.”