Union official backs Bay State Wind

Says firm can help New Bedford the way it helped UK communities

OFFSHORE WIND BECAME A FOCUS for Massachusetts more than 10 years ago, and I have been caught up by it and am now engaged in the process of making it a reality for the state. Since my involvement, I’ve had the great privilege of learning from some of the industry’s top minds, which has helped me understand the tremendous benefit offshore wind could have for the residents of southeastern Massachusetts and the entire state. Not only will offshore wind generate clean, renewable energy, it will also create a robust supply chain, complete with job creation and training that will position Massachusetts as the hub of a new American energy industry.

Massachusetts is only a few days away from announcing which among three bidding companies will be selected to build the nation’s first commercial-scale offshore wind farm. Only one of the three developers has committed to work with New Bedford and the local workforce. That company is Bay State Wind.

Last week the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental, and Reinforcing Iron Workers; and the Utility Workers Union of America all signed an agreement with Bay State Wind, Bristol Community College, and Massachusetts Maritime Academy to develop an offshore wind training center in New Bedford. This training facility will ensure that the workforce has the skills needed to help build this new renewable energy industry, and boost our region’s economy through increased earning and spending. It will raise many people up to the middle class with good paying, union jobs, and it will also provide work for our post-9/11 veterans.

Bay State Wind has been working with us for months, listening to our concerns, and engaging in serious discussions on training as well as operations and maintenance work in New Bedford. The company also introduced us to officials in the United Kingdom to see how offshore wind has transformed similar communities overseas.

In February, I was honored to join a trade mission to the United Kingdom along with officials from New Bedford, Bristol Community College, and others from North Carolina, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York, and Maryland. This trip opened our eyes to the amazing impact offshore wind can have on a region hungry for jobs and revitalization.

Phil Trombly of the Utility Workers Union of America.

We visited the cities of Grimsby and Hull, where Ørsted, one of Bay State Wind’s two parent companies (the other is Eversource), has invested $8 billion. These cities were very much like New Bedford –- national fishing ports with struggling economies. From what we saw, it’s hard to believe these bustling cities once had the highest unemployment rate in the country.

Offshore wind development has made the Grimsby and Hull region the fastest growing in the United Kingdom thanks, in part, to the investments Ørsted made in job training for local residents. At the University of Hull they opened a training facility that also acts as a research and innovation center. There they are working to perfect best practices for operating and maintaining wind farms.

It was so clear from this trip that Ørsted and Bay State Wind don’t just invest in projects, they invest in communities. They have made it clear to me, to all of us, that they will own and operate the wind farm for the life of the project, and that they want to be our partner. We needed them to commit to partnering with us in the training center in New Bedford and having their employees do the operationg and maintenance work out of New Bedford – and they have!

I am proud of New Bedford, and New Bedford residents are proud of the city’s rich history. But over the last couple of generations we’ve been hit hard. Mayor Mitchell has been doing a great job with improving all aspects of the city – he’s added 5,000 jobs during his time in office. But we struggle with workforce challenges, and there is a lot more work to do. If there was ever a time for us to figure out where we can make the best investments, that time is now. Clean energy is the future, and our future is offshore wind. An offshore wind training facility will go a long way toward ensuring that New Bedford and the surrounding region, as well as the state of Massachusetts, will have jobs for decades as the industry grows.

Meet the Author

Phil Trombly

Regional director of offshore wind, Utility Workers Union of America
Our state is going to be the first in the nation to build a commercial-scale offshore wind farm, and this is no time to work with start-ups. We need a company that can build projects on time, on budget (and with their own money), and bring a global supply chain right to our doorstep.

I believe that Bay State Wind is best positioned to deliver clean power for the people of Massachusetts on time and at a good price. I am confident that Bay State Wind is the only developer that can prepare the local workforce to support this new US industry right here in New Bedford.

Phil Trombly is the regional director of offshore wind for the Utility Workers Union of America. He was born in Acushnet and raised in New Bedford.