Cape Wind To Use Falmouth As Base Of Operations

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By: Michael C. Bailey
Published: 08/24/12

Yesterday was a red letter day for the Cape Wind project, which took another step toward becoming a reality and making good on a long-held promise of creating local jobs.

“This is a very exciting day for us here at Cape Wind,” Mark Rodgers, director of communications for Cape Wind told a crowd of about 50 reporters and town, county, and state officials who gathered in the Falmouth Chamber of Commerce conference room, where James S. Gordon announced a deal that will establish Falmouth as the new operations and maintenance headquarters for Cape Wind.

Cape Wind had earlier this week signed a purchase and sale agreement with East Marine on Falmouth Harbor, which would be transformed into the wind farm’s base of operations. He did not disclose the value of the agreement, which is confidential under a no-disclosure agreement signed by both parties.

The property is just under an acre in size.

“I just want to say: I told you so,” said former state representative Matthew C. Patrick, one of the very first politicians to come out in favor of the project—“an unpopular position, even in my own party,” he remarked. Mr. Patrick said he stuck by his guns because “I knew the jobs would come, and that they were needed, and that these would be good jobs of the future…Falmouth is going to become the wind energy hub of New England.”

The center will create 50 direct, permanent jobs “comprising skilled technicians with background in power engineering, electronics, mechanical engineering,” Mr. Gordon said. “These will be highly paid workers that will be going out every morning to the Cape Wind Farm to keep the facility well-maintained.”

Falmouth Board of Selectmen, seeing this potential for local job creation, passed a resolution in 2009 to actively court Cape Wind to set up operations in town. “Bringing Cape Wind’s headquarters to Falmouth builds on the town’s strengths in marine sciences and engineering,” Kevin E. Murphy, chairman of the board said, “and it helps keep, more importantly, our main harbor, Falmouth Harbor, as a working harbor…we want to keep our waterways as working environments.”

I knew the jobs would come, and that they were needed, and that these would be good jobs of the future…Falmouth is going to become the wind energy hub of New England.

                                            Matthew Patrick

“This is a very positive economic boost for our town,” Town Manager Julian M. Suso said, “and we’re pleased that they’re pursuing something that is in character with our working marine environment.”

That working marine environment was a major selling point for Mr. Gordon. “Our reason for locating in Falmouth was simple: we found a marina in Falmouth in a protected harbor that had a large storage warehouse, slips that would accommodate the vessels that will go out to service our wind farm,” he said.

He added that an added benefit is the town’s proximity to educational institutions that promote through their respective curricula renewable energy development: Cape Cod Community College, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, which has experienced some of the benefits of wind emery directly through the turbine erected on the campus in 2009.

“One hundred percent of my students have studied and lived under that wind turbine, and have come to appreciate the opportunity here on the Cape for a free natural resource that, with technology and foresight, we can press into service,” Rear Admiral Richard G. Gurnon, president of the Maritime Academy, said.

Sharing The Wealth

The day’s speakers looked beyond Falmouth’s border and painted a picture in which Falmouth was a locus for a renewable energy industry that would have far-reaching benefits for the state and the country.

Mr. Gordon remarked on Falmouth’s role in the whaling trade generations ago, calling it “one of the energy capitals of the world, along with New Bedford”—which, coincidentally, has been identified as a construction port and staging area for the turbines—and said establishing a headquarters in Falmouth “is the beginning of an emerging industry that will once again make southern New England and the Massachusetts region not only a large producer of renewable energy, but also an exporter of energy.”

“This region, this southeastern Massachusetts region, is so ripe to become, not only nationally but I think internationally, the leader in marine education, marine research, marine technology and development, and the advancement of the marine economy,” Congressman William R. Keating (D) said.

Richard K. Sullivan Jr., the state’s executive secretary of energy and the environment, said with Cape Wind anchoring the state’s growing renewable energy industry, Massachusetts is primed to create “the vast majority” of the 43,000 new jobs the US Department of Energy predicts will be created by the offshore wind industry alone.

That figure came from a 2010 report by the department of energy that estimated 20 jobs would be created for every megawatt of energy generated by offshore wind.

Mr. Gordon noted that Cape Wind has already generated “hundreds” of direct and indirect jobs throughout Massachusetts over the course of the decade-long planning and review process, including jobs attached to the company’s current geotechnical and geophysical exploration operations in Nantucket Sound.

“We have many, many people working in Massachusetts on the Cape Wind project, and have had those people for many years,” he said.

Mr. Gordon laid out a tentative time line for the firm, in which financing on the project is completed next year, construction begins in 2014, and by the end of 2014 “we’ll start bringing in the operations and maintenance crew for specialized training to be ready for the wind farm’s operations in 2015.”

This marks the second major business deal between Cape Wind and a Cape Cod business. In March 2011 Cape Wind entered into a deal with Hy-Line Cruises for the “Cape Wind Eco Tour and Visitor Center at Hy-Line Cruises” initiative, which will include guided tours of the wind farm once it is constructed on Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound.

East Marine was owned by the Wormelle family from 1981 until 2003, when it was sold to Falmouth Heights LLC, owned by Peter M. Nicholas of Boston.

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