MC: New Bedford Parcel to Support Windfarms

Cannon Street Power Station will be developed to stage and support offshore wind energy projects

14.July, New Bedford MA – The decommissioned Cannon Street Power Station will be developed to stage and support offshore wind energy projects, and possibly serve the New Bedford fishing fleet as an additional offloading site. The redevelopment plan is pending on the announced sale of nearly the entire site by Eversource Energy and Sprague Resources, to Cannon Street Holdings LLC.  Redeveloped as an offshore wind staging facility, the site will augment the nearby New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal, purpose-built as a heavy-load offshore wind staging facility. Together, the sites will be a preeminent center of offshore wind development and logistical capability.

New Bedford is well-positioned to support development of the over 1600 megawatts of planned offshore wind generation and up to another 1600 megawatts to be awarded. Other ports pursuing wind farm business are New London CT, Providence and Davisville RI. While these all have well-developed rail infrastructure, New Bedford will need to complete a long-planned ~500 ft extension to bring a track to the Eversource/Sprague complex.

These prospects have grown recently on the Biden Administration’s announcement of plans for 30-gW of offshore wind energy production, the corroborating potential of >44,000 offshore wind jobs by 2030. Currently, >$24 billion in wind projects are in development pipeline within easy steaming distance of the Cannon Street site. New Bedford is the nearest industrial port to the most advanced wind projects.

The redevelopment plan also presents potential for a modern seafood offloading facility, the first expansion of its kind in many years in the nation’s number one fishing port.

Site History

The 29-acre site has been underutilized since the former New Bedford Edison generating plant’s 1992 decommissioning, serving since then as a fuel storage terminal for Sprague Energy, and as an industrial site for various tenants.

New Bedford site rail redevelopment
Rail service is currently terminated at the border of the Eversource/Sprague parcel. This example of a new site layout incorporates the addition of basic rail access to the property, and corroborates an additional Lon-planned rail extension southward to some of the major seafood processing facilities.

The city has pursued the site’s redevelopment for decades without success. Having been used for over a century exclusively for electric and gas utility services, the site has before never been integrated into the city’s $11 billion port-related economy.

The offshore wind industry’s ramp-up has led to a surge of interest in New England industrial ports with suitable zoning, vertical clearance, water depths, and geotechnical characteristics.

New Bedford Benefits

With the potential benefits for New Bedford citizens in mind, the City has stepped forward to take a proactive development role, and the New Bedford Redevelopment Authority will acquire approximately four acres of the site for a nominal amount. A key area of the NBRA property has recently been remediated, and the entire property has achieved regulatory closure and has been determined to be without significant risk for future use.

Environmental Challenges

The redevelopment plan is based on a pragmatic approach to resolving the environmental challenges that have helped undermine past efforts. By choosing land uses that can achieve full regulatory compliance at costs within the means of the property purchaser, clean-up efforts and the overall redevelopment path have been greatly simplified.

The redevelopment plan anticipates that the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection will designate the site under the State Enhanced Remedy (SER) program, which will streamline environmental permitting, and accelerate clean-up efforts by months or years. New Bedford Harbor, the nation’s first marine Superfund site, remains unique in its history of utilizing the SER program to rapidly construct marine infrastructure while also remediating past environment damage. Planned waterside improvements and dredging at the site should advance quickly, given the site’s SER designation.

Several areas of the property have also undergone significant environmental remediation in the past several years. The Power Station building itself was recently sealed and stabilized by Sprague at a cost of about $6 million; and Eversource, as noted, has remediated a large area within the land owned by the New Bedford Redevelopment Authority, at a cost of $3 million since 2012.  Cannon Street Holdings is already developing plans for future remediation, which will include the demolition of the Power Station building and smokestack, a step made necessary because the building’s location makes it inherently difficult to unload vessels docked at the site’s main bulkhead.  The circa 1856 Taber & Grinnell Iron Foundry Building will be retained.

“[No] other location in the Port of New Bedford holds more potential for investment and growth than the Sprague/Eversource site …,” said Mayor Jon Mitchell. “The transaction … puts New Bedford in a leading position to compete in offshore wind, fishing and marine innovation for the long run …”