Salem: Perfect Site to Support Off Shore Wind Industry

At the December 3rd meeting of the Salem Harbor Port Authority (SHPA), the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) delivered exciting news to the city about the suitability of its port for playing a role in the burgeoning offshore wind (OSW) industry along the Atlantic seaboard. Slides of this draft report can be found at the Salem Harbor Port Authority webpage, under Quick Links (MassCEC Wind Ports & Infrastructure Presentation).

An independent investigator, Jay Borklund of Lloyd’s Register, noted that with Salem’s deep-water port, unobstructed by bridges or powerlines, it could be a perfect site for one or more of these roles in OSW: operations and maintenance, manufacturing, or marshalling. SAFE is excited about this opportunity for Salem to be a part of the vital and growing OSW industry.

While pleased about the favorable report, Mayor Kim Driscoll pointed out that the property where many of the OSW operations would be based is currently owned by Footprint, the developers of the quick-start gas power plant that is contiguous to the site.

At SAFE’s urging, Footprint agreed in its Community Benefits Agreement with the City of Salem “to assist with offshore wind interconnections to the National Grid switchyard on the site” (II.D.4). Now Footprint has the opportunity to further support wind development by making its parcel available to the wind industry.

There is remarkable synergy between the quick-start power plant and offshore wind. The plant can supplement an OSW farm by filling in gaps in intermittent energy production. Salem could become a leader in an industry projected to double its capacity over the next decade.

Salem’s prospects for having wind-inspired economic development have not been so bright since the days of the early Eighteenth Century—when wind brought large sailing ships to Salem and propelled our port into international fame.