By Charis Anderson
The developers of the newly approved Cape Wind project are eyeing New Bedford as one of two possible home ports for the project, a project official confirmed Thursday.
“We’re taking a very close and interested look in New Bedford,” said Mark Rodgers, communications director for Cape Wind.
The other port under consideration is Quonset Point in Rhode Island, according to Rodgers.
The proposal by Cape Wind Associates LLC to build 130 wind turbines over a 25-mile stretch of Nantucket Sound was approved Wednesday by U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
Rodgers said project officials had considered about six ports and had originally intended to use Quonset Point. However, over the past two years, the developers have become more and more interested in New Bedford, he said.
“Part of it is just that it’s closer,” Rodgers said. “Part of it is that it’s nice that it’s in Massachusetts since the project will be offshore Massachusetts.
“And then part of it, again, comes down to the mayor’s team, and them being really proactive and great people to work with.”
Rodgers said New Bedford has a number of attributes that make it well suited to Cape Wind’s needs, including a deep-water port, close proximity to the project and an available work force.
Additionally, Rodgers said he was impressed with the way city officials such as Matthew Morrissey and Kristin Decas, economic development director and executive director of the Harbor Development Commission, respectively, are working to place the city ahead of certain trends.
“They’re … trying to think long term and how they can position New Bedford and the New Bedford waterfront to maximize its potential going forward,” he said.
According to Rodgers, the Cape Wind developers are not quite ready to make a final port selection, but that decision will be made soon.
“We have kept in very close contact with the company and their partners in trying to continue to make the case for New Bedford, and we’ll continue to do so,” Mayor Scott W. Lang said.
According to a study conducted by Cape Wind, the project is expected to generate 600 to 1,000 jobs during the assembly and ocean construction stages and about 150 permanent jobs.
Massachusetts Secretary for Energy and Environmental Affairs Ian Bowles said the project is an important economic opportunity for Southeastern Massachusetts.
“Gov. (Deval) Patrick intends to fight for every job associated with the Cape Wind project,” he said. “Maximizing the economic impact associated with the Cape Wind project is a top priority.”
According to Bowles, New Bedford is well positioned to host port facilities for the project.
“We’re going to continue to coordinate with Cape Wind and the city on this possibility in the months ahead,” he said.
Morrissey, executive director of the New Bedford Economic Development Council, said the city had been working for the past four years to position New Bedford as a manufacturing hub for clean-tech companies.
More recently, he said, city officials have been in active discussions with Cape Wind and the state about the assets New Bedford and its port have to offer the project.
“New Bedford possesses the work force, several available sites and a real need for the kind of economic shot in the arm that a project like this will induce,” he said.
Morrissey said the total number of jobs created would be in the hundreds.
“There’s a tremendous visibility that will come from this association that will lead to additional job creation,” he said.
April 30, 2010 12:00 AM
By Charis Anderson