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Offshore Wind Firms Agree To Use New Bedford Terminal

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (CBS/AP) — Three offshore wind energy developers holding leases in federal waters off Massachusetts have agreed to use a state facility on the New Bedford waterfront as a staging area for future projects, Gov. Charlie Baker's administration said Tuesday.

Providence, Rhode Island-based Deepwater Wind, Princeton, New Jersey-based OffshoreMW and Dong Energy, a Danish firm, signed a letter of intent with the state, committing to a two-year, $5.7 million lease to use the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal for staging and deployment, officials said.

The announcement could represent a shot in the arm for the terminal, built at a cost of $113 million and billed as a first-in-the-nation facility for supporting the still nascent offshore wind industry in the U.S. The future of the 26-acre facility, operated by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, had been thrown in question following the demise of Cape Wind's proposal to build a 130-turbine wind farm in Nantucket Sound.

Gov. Baker was more than happy to join a large contingent of clean energy supporters in New Bedford Tuesday to observe the signing of the letters of intent.

"We have an opportunity to do something very significant and very important," said Gov. Baker. "Not just for the south coast, but for the Commonwealth and for New England overall."

New Bedford, a once mighty whaling port that has suffered economically in recent decades, is working to position itself as the leading American port for offshore wind development, said Jon Mitchell, the city's mayor.

Baker, a Republican, signed an energy bill last month that will require utilities to solicit bids for up to 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind power within the next decade. That set the stage for Tuesday's agreement, which Baker says will set a new power-generating standard for the whole country.

"I believe it will establish a benchmark for how offshore wind, especially deep-water wind, can be done and can be done effectively in the United States," Baker said.

Deepwater Wind, OffshoreMW and Dong Energy all hope to develop wind projects in the federally-designated area about 15 miles south of Martha's Vineyard.

If everything goes as planned, the wind farms, which will not be visible from land, will be generating electricity by the year 2021.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Carl Stevens reports

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