In the 19th Century, when whale oil illuminated homes and businesses, New Bedford — the City That Lit the World — dispatched hundreds of whale ships to supply an energy sector that made ours the world’s wealthiest and most productive port. Today, the winds that once filled the sails of New Bedford’s whaling fleet offer renewed potential with New Bedford as the center of the new offshore wind industry being built just off our coast.
Just a few miles south of New Bedford blow some of North America’s strongest and most reliable winds. Those winds, which average more than 20 mph throughout the day and night, are the result of the collision between the warm waters of the Gulf Stream and the cold air of the northern jet stream. The winds have the capacity to produce about 6,000 MW of electrical power — about 40 percent of Massachusetts’ current energy needs.
The federal government has identified more than 1,000 square miles of ocean off Massachusetts for developers to build North America’s first industrial scale wind farms over the next decade. Those wind farms will provide1,600 MW of electrical power that can become part of the electrical grid in one of the most populous and energy-starved region’s in the United States. That’s enough power to provide electricity for about 500,000 homes.
New Bedford’s close proximity to federally leased offshore wind development sites near both Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York, its protected deep-water harbor, and first-in-the-nation offshore wind terminal makes the city the ideal location to launch this new American green energy industry.
Because our winds blow most dependably on warm summer days and cold winter nights, offshore wind power — which creates no pollution — delivers electricity when it is needed most, helping to stabilize electricity costs and reduce our reliance on expensive and dirty power produced by burning fossil fuels like oil, coal and natural gas.
Economic Opportunity and Jobs The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that by 2030 there will be 43,000 offshore wind related jobs on the East Coast. The development of this new national growth industry has the potential to attract substantial private sector investments, and generate long-term economic growth in New Bedford, the SouthCoast and across Massachusetts. New Bedford’s first-mover status in this emerging industry, its close proximity to offshore wind sites, specialized port infrastructure, foreign trade zone and experienced maritime workforce position the city to assemble and deploy a pipeline of multi-billion dollar offshore wind projects in the years ahead. Over time, this project pipeline will create thousands of jobs at every step of the supply chain, from offshore permitting to turbine design, from construction management to component manufacturing to ongoing operations and maintenance.
Combating Climate Change The development of the offshore wind industry is the fulfillment of an urgent national priority – combating climate change. Across the SouthCoast of Massachusetts, we recognize the critical threat that climate change represents to our fundamental way of life. An average utility-scale wind farm has the potential to eliminate more than 650,000 tons of carbon dioxide from being emitted into our atmosphere annually – a significant step in securing a cleaner future for our environment.
Controlling Our Energy Future Since 1970, the usage of electricity in New England has doubled. Technological needs and population growth will continue to drive up demand for energy in the years ahead. Investments in domestic renewable energy sources, such as offshore wind, can provide abundant clean energy to meet increased demand without consuming scarce natural resources, polluting the environment, or relying on imported non-renewable energy sources.
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New Bedford, MA 02740