For the past 21 years and counting, the Port of New Bedford has been America’s highest grossing commercial fishing port and the epicenter of the industry on the East Coast. According to one recent study, the Port generates – largely through fishing, seafood processing, and related businesses – over $11 billion in economic output and supports nearly 7,000 jobs. The Port is the primary economic engine of Southeastern Massachusetts.
As a means of diversifying the region’s economic base, New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell and his Administration have worked for nearly a decade to position New Bedford to become the leader in offshore wind. New Bedford is now in a highly advantageous position to support the emergence of the American offshore wind industry. It is the closest industrial port to the Massachusetts and Rhode Island Wind Energy Areas, the largest cluster of wind energy areas on the East Coast with the acreage to support development of 14 GW of offshore wind power. As a result, the Port of New Bedford has the distinction of being the first U.S. port to host the marshalling and construction of a commercial-scale offshore wind development project. This effort requires a great deal of preparation, investment, and planning, much of which is well underway.
The goal of the New Bedford Port Authority is to promote development that allows both commercial fishing and offshore wind industries to thrive. This paper discusses the various public and private infrastructure investments in the Port. These investments are creating new bulkhead and terminal space as well as rehabilitating derelict waterfront properties. Because New Bedford Harbor is a Superfund site, most of these infrastructure developments are permitted through the State Enhanced Remedy (SER) process. This process enables projects that meet specific criteria through the Record of Decision to be permitted within weeks rather than months. Several public and private projects permitted through the SER process are, by necessity, interdependent..