Offshore wind energy cable base planned for New England

Subsea power provider JDR Cable Systems and McAllister Towing and Transportation Co. Inc. are planning to develop a cable service base in the northeast U.S. to serve the emerging offshore wind energy industry.

The facility would include an integrated cable training center to develop the workforce that will be needed to link offshore wind turbine arrays and the regional energy grids as wind power companies develop their federal leases off southern New England.

In announcing the agreement with McAllister, UK-based JDR Cable said, “this new facility is being targeted to be developed on an existing McAllister quayside waterfront property in the northeastern United States. The site has been selected due to its proximity to the current offshore wind leases and the enormous potential of the region in the use of renewable energy sources.”

The companies offered no specifics, but McAllister has major operations on Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island, which has also been a base for Deepwater Wind, which pioneered the first U.S. commercial offshore wind project at Block Island, R.I. Deepwater Wind is now entering the environmental impact statement phase with federal regulators for its first project in federal waters, the South Fork Wind Farm that would be built east of Montauk Point, N.Y.

Legal and other details are still being worked out prior to a formal launch of the project, according to the JDR statement.

“Initially this base will serve as a staging area for subsea power cables to enable local storage, maintenance and deployment to the offshore wind fields,” according to JDR. “Longer-term plans include the establishment of office, storage, workshop and training facilities to develop offshore high-voltage electrical and fiber-optic competencies to the local work force.

“As the U.S. offshore wind industry matures, this service base will transition to become the JDR Offshore Wind Life of Field Service Center. Some of the services to be provided will be asset management services, capital spare cable storage, preservation and maintenance as well as the JDR field service headquarters for the U.S. offshore wind market.”

A longtime manufacturer of subsea umbilical and power cables, JDR entered the offshore wind energy field in 2006 and is a provider to European wind power companies. The move to establish a New England base would position it to do the same as companies develop leases granted by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

“Our partnership with McAllister is one of several critical steps JDR Cables has towards establishing our market leading presence in the US offshore wind market,” said David Nemetz, director for the Americas at JDR, said in a prepared statement.

“McAllister makes the perfect partner for JDR as their vessel and tug experiences will complement our strategy for development of services during the installation, commissioning, operating and decommissioning phases of this new industry. Establishing this first of its kind service facility in the US market will provide additional value for our customers thanks to the experience of our employees in the field of production, technology, and services.”

The planned cable service and training center will develop a local workforce and provide jobs for both professional and technical workers,” said Nemetz.

The venture could also position McAllister, a 154-year-old family tug company, to play a big role in wiring the sea floor for wind power.

“Offshore wind farm development is a new industry for New England. JDR Cables’ expertise in manufacturing and service excellence will be in high demand as the offshore wind industry gets started in our region,” said Buckley McAllister, president of McAllister Towing. “While maritime logistics and project operations have always been part of our business, JDR Cables brings vast experience in subsea installations that are otherwise unavailable to customers in the area. We are proud to be able to work with a company of their global reputation and capability in this fast-evolving business.”

“JDR Cables has been very generous in sharing their knowledge of this industry with our crews,” said Capt. Gary Oliveira, vice president and general manager at McAllister Towing of Narragansett Bay. “We look forward to working with them on the sustainable growth of the offshore wind as a renewable energy source.”

 

About the author

Kirk Moore

Associate Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been a field editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for almost 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.

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