Patrick Administration budgets $35 million for commerce terminal in New Bedford Harbor

NEW BEDFORD — The Patrick administration says it has budgeted $35 million for the construction of the proposed marine commerce terminal in New Bedford and that more money may be coming.
“The Patrick-Murray administration’s current capital plan includes $29 million for the terminal, and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center will help contribute towards additional costs,” MassCEC’s CEO Patrick Cloney said in a statement.
The CEC later said it had budgeted an additional $6 million and that there might be more from other sources later.
The full cost of the project will not be known until it clears the required EPA permitting and is put out for bid, Cloney said.
The estimated total cost of building the planned marine commerce terminal in New Bedford Harbor has been put at around $50 million, according to the administration.
“The $29 million in capital funding is in the current capital plan and will be made available as soon as it is needed,” said Alec Loftus of the governor’s press office in an email, when asked for details on when the funds will be released.
Mayor Jon Mitchell welcomed the news but said he had not received any information on a start date or when the money would be made available. “The project’s timetable depends on Cape Wind,” he said. “I think the administration’s (recent) insistence that NStar purchase power from them is a significant development.”
Mitchell said that planning needs to take place before construction could begin, and some land deals struck in the area.
“This is obviously a very complicated project. We’ll go at it methodically, step by step, and remove every obstacle,” he said.
Mitchell stressed that both the city and state have a “compelling interest” in completing the South Terminal staging port.
“Offshore wind farm development is inevitable in the next 10 years,” he said. “The state has an interest in investing money in that, especially as ports in other states, especially Rhode Island, will be looking to get in the game.”
Mitchell said he gives the Patrick administration great credit for a project that will not only boost New Bedford’s economy but the entire state’s. He’s had several conversations with the administration about funding the terminal since taking office in January, he said.
There is huge potential for the development of many wind farms south of Massachusetts, Mitchell said, stating that he has seen statistics that indicate a full 25 percent of the nation’s wind power is located there.
“I think there is a recognition on everybody’s part that ocean-based wind farms are a good investment right now in the Northeast. And the best place to invest in that capacity is in New Bedford.”
Secretary Rick Sullivan of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs said that the $50 million price tag remains just an estimate.
“There are no hard numbers yet,” he said, “These are just the working numbers.” However, the process is now moving forward, he said. “It’s fully designed and we have already filed with the EPA for federal environmental permits,” Sullivan said. “We expect them to give us a schedule soon for moving ahead with the permitting.”
The New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal will consist of a 1,200 linear foot bulkhead with deep water access and about 20 acres of surface space, according to the design. “There will have to be a lot of open space obviously, for staging the turbines,” Sullivan said. “But there will be a number of buildings there, too. We see New Bedford becoming a high density cargo port, possibly with container operations.”
The staging area for turbines is intended to be the first use for the terminal which will subsequently be used for cargo handling.
The multipurpose terminal was designed specifically to support offshore wind, shipping and other commercial activities.
A study commissioned by the MassCEC found New Bedford has sufficient depth in the harbor waters to accommodate the size of vessels commonly used for break bulk cargo (cargo that is loaded individually and not packaged in large shipping containers). The proposed South Terminal site also has property available for expansion. The state pier does not have enough land or the load capacity for a project of this size.
Executive news editor Jack Spillane contributed to this report.
March 01, 2012 12:00 AM
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