The push to transform Rhode Island into a hub for the offshore wind industry could soon take another step forward with the proposed move of a second British turbine maintenance company into the state, Kallanish Energy understands.
UK-based Boston Energy is planning to lease an office in downtown Providence and hire 52 full-time technicians and support staff over the next four years, the Providence Journal reported.
The company’s decision follows the announcement in June GEV Wind Power, another turbine service firm also UK-headquartered, plans to open its U.S. headquarters in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, and hire 125 workers, the Journal reported.
The Rhode Island Commerce Corp.’s Investment Committee was to meet this week to consider awarding $886,250 in tax incentives to Boston Energy. If the committee votes in favor of the package, it would go to the corporation’s board next Monday for final approval.
“Rhode Island has led the way in the offshore wind industry and this development further demonstrates that we are well-positioned to continue to be the industry hub as we approach our goal of increasing renewable energy tenfold by next year,” Gov. Gina Raimondo said, in a statement.
Raimondo has set a goal of increasing the supply of power from wind, solar and other renewable energy sources to 1,000 megawatts by 2020.
That number currently stands at 371 MW, up from roughly 100 MW when the governor announced the target in 2016, according to the state Office of Energy Resources.
At about the same time, the number in Rhode Island of clean energy jobs, which includes positions in renewable energy and energy efficiency, has increased from about 9,000 in 2014 to 16,000 this year. It is expected to continue to go up with the development of a number of offshore wind farms proposed off Rhode Island and Massachusetts, despite friction between the industry and commercial fishermen.
Boston Energy’s decision to open an office on land freed up by the relocation of Route 195 could signal the creation of a cluster of wind businesses in Providence. Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor said he expects at least two more companies in the industry to open offices in the same part of the city.
Boston Energy’s technicians service and inspect wind turbines, both offshore and on land. Pryor met with Boston Energy at an offshore wind conference in May. It was at the same conference that he met with GEV Wind Power. Raimondo also met with representatives of both companies to urge them to move to Rhode Island, the Journal reported.
In exchange for 10 years of incentives, Boston Energy must commit to operating in Rhode Island for 12 years. According to the Commerce Corporation, a third-party analysis concluded when the tax credits are subtracted out, the company would generate $2.3 million in net revenue for the state over the 12-year period, and, once the new hires are in place, an increase of $6.35 million in Rhode Island’s annual gross domestic product.
Pryor just got back from a three-day trip last week to Denmark, where he visited the corporate headquarters of Ørsted, the global offshore wind developer. Ørsted, which has an office in Providence, owns the Block Island Wind Farm, the only offshore wind farm so far in the U.S., and is planning several more projects to supply power to Rhode Island, Connecticut and Long Island, New York.
During the trip, Ørsted helped connect Pryor with other Danish companies involved in offshore wind. Ørsted executives are set to have follow-up discussions with Raimondo, according to Pryor.
As to whether Rhode Island could land any of the big European companies that manufacture wind turbines or their components, Pryor is hopeful. But he said that operations and maintenance jobs are also “extraordinarily important” to the economy.
“They will far outlast the manufacturing jobs,” he said.
This post appeared first on Kallanish Energy News.