New Bedford, Massachusetts was once a booming city, exporting whale oil for lamps in the early 1800s. However, more than 170 years later, it is now the birthplace of the offshore wind industry in the United States. The city is aiming to light up the world once again, but in a different way. The United States currently does not have a single commercial-scale offshore wind farm. But Vineyard Wind is constructing a 62-turbine wind farm, 24 kilometers off the Massachusetts coast that is expected to generate 800 megawatts, enough to power more than 400,000 homes.
The Biden administration aims to build 30 gigawatts of offshore wind farms by 2030, creating jobs and opportunities for businesses across the country. Developers are investing in multi-million dollar projects to upgrade ports along the East Coast, including New Bedford. Vineyard Wind currently leases the first U.S. port facility designed specifically for offshore wind, which opened in the city in 2015. Bristol Community College will also open a National Offshore Wind Laboratory in New Bedford later this summer for worker training and certification.
New Bedford was a city of about 100,000 people and not part of any metropolitan area, so it had to figure out how to carve its own way as the spoils of the American economy flowed into the massive superstar cities. Recognizing its promise, the city opened the first U.S. port facility designed specifically for offshore wind in 2015. It’s now a top port for commercial fishing and seafood processing, but Mayor John Mitchell said the city’s economy cannot depend on it alone. The offshore wind industry is a source of hope for the city’s future.