$2 Million ‘Wind Workforce’ Fund to Develop World-Class Offshore Wind Labor Pool in Massachusetts

Program to recruit, mentor, and train local residents for careers in the Commonwealth’s newest industry aims to position Massachusetts as leader in US offshore wind sector

Vineyard Wind today announced that its $2 million “Wind Workforce” initiative will recruit, mentor, and train local residents for high-skills careers in the Commonwealth’s newest industry, with the objective of positioning Massachusetts as the nation’s leading center for offshore wind farm development. The program, which will be undertaken in partnership with vocational schools, community colleges, and other local organizations, is part of Vineyard Wind’s proposal to construct a large, utility-scale wind energy project off the coast of Massachusetts.

“Our $2 million commitment to support offshore wind technical training and career development programs for local residents is designed with one goal in mind – making Massachusetts the hub of the offshore wind industry here in the United States,” said Lars Thaaning Pedersen, CEO of Vineyard Wind. “We’re eager to see the Commonwealth reap the full job creation opportunity associated with the nation’s first commercial scale offshore wind projects located offshore Massachusetts, starting with the Vineyard Wind project beginning construction in 2019.”

Development of offshore wind will bring billions of dollars of private investment into Massachusetts, helping to diversify and grow the region’s economy through modernization of local ports, new services such as transport vessels, ongoing research offshore, and skilled workforce training needed to build and operate wind farm facilities.

With site construction set to begin in 2019, Vineyard Wind is positioned as the first project in the Massachusetts Clean Energy 83C solicitation process that will deliver significant job opportunities to residents across the Commonwealth and put people to work immediately. In December, Vineyard Wind became the first of several competing projects to apply for federal and state construction permits by submitting applications with the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities’ Energy Facilities Siting Board.

The Wind Workforce Program will leverage Vineyard Wind’s accelerated construction timeline so the project will serve as a training ground where Bay State workers gain critical experience ahead of other states, including local colleges and universities.

“Vineyard Wind’s commitment to work with Cape Cod Community College and other institutions in developing offshore wind workforce education and training programs will expand opportunities for the Cape's residents and businesses and create pathways for early involvement in an industry poised to draw billions of dollars of investment to our region,” said Rick Bsharah, Chair of the Engineering Science and Applied Technology Department at Cape Cod Community College.

“Massachusetts is poised to create the best-trained, most experienced offshore wind workforce in the United States,” said Erich Stephens, Chief Development office (CDO) of Vineyard Wind. “Through the Wind Workforce initiative, we will partner with regional vocational-tech schools, community colleges and other groups to ensure that wherever an American offshore wind is built, the Commonwealth and its workers benefit.” 

The Wind Workforce initiative is expected to fund training courses will be established for certification in any number of high-skills offshore wind jobs or support services. Vineyard Wind’s proposal to construct an 800MW wind farm approximately 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard includes plans for up to 3,600 new jobs, including 1,000 new hires before 2022. Vineyard Wind expects that a majority of new employment opportunities related to its project will be based in Southeastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod and the Islands.

Following passage of An Act to Promote Energy Diversity in 2016, Massachusetts required the state’s electric distribution companies to procure 1,600 megawatts (MW) of clean, offshore wind energy within the next decade, resulting in robust interest by developers to participate in the procurement process for long-term offshore wind contracts. The addition of 1,600 MW of low-carbon wind generation capacity will provide enough clean, homegrown energy to power the equivalent of more than 750,000 Massachusetts homes every year. 

Rebecca Rutenberg