Ms. Williams, who co-authored Cape Wind, a book about the wind farm, looks at the case of Mass Tank, a small business: "Joining forces with a German outfit, EEW Group, this 50-employee locally owned firm will undertake the challenge of fabricating 130 steel monopiles, each of which may be as long as 165 feet and will weigh several hundred tons."
A lot of steel, she notes, will mean a lot of jobs, not only for making the steel, but for fabricating the structures, and in the end, the project could propel Mass Tank, a maker of household fuel tanks, to become a significant part of the wind energy industry.
Adds Ms. Williams, "Once the project gets going, people who are welders now will eventually be able to become managers of welders. Kids out of voke-tech schools will get jobs that wouldn’t otherwise be available.
"And imagine the jobs that would have been available to these kids years ago, were it not for the vicious opposition of a small group of very rich people who have made it their primary purpose in life to stop American progress in its tracks."
By Tom Gray, www.aweablog.org/
Wendy Williams: Wind-power jobs crowd horizon as vendor rises
For the past 10 years, proponents and opponents of the Cape Wind project have battled over unproved assertions. Nantucket Sound whales would be harmed, complained the antis. Global warming must be prevented, said the pros.
But as few actual facts existed, the debate has been mostly nonsense.
Now that the 130-turbine, 468-megawatt offshore wind project has its required governmental approvals, the nuts-and-bolts phase is finally under way. And the facts are beginning to come out.
Project opponents, including the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, have asserted speculatively that Cape Wind jobs and money will go overseas.
Here’s the truth:
Recently, Cape Wind signed a deal with a small Middleboro firm, Mass Tank. Joining forces with a German outfit, EEW Group, this 50-employee locally owned firm will undertake the challenge of fabricating 130 steel monopiles, each of which may be as long as 165 feet and will weigh several hundred tons.
These massive structures will be driven into the Nantucket Sound seabed. Atop each will be a transition piece into which will be fitted the huge monopoles that will rise so dramatically from the sea to support the turbine blades and machines.
The total steel involved in the Cape Wind deal will be more than 100 million tons.
That’s a lot of steel. And a lot of steel means a lot of jobs. Local jobs.
Moreover, to accomplish this ambitious goal, a seaside fabrication site must be found; New Bedford is high on the list. A building will either have to be constructed or retrofitted.
Hundreds of new employees must be hired. Some will drive forklift trucks. Some will roll steel. Some will weld the joints. And some will just manage projects. This means a whole support staff from office assistants to engineers.
Moreover, if offshore wind finally becomes a reality in this country — after years of silly opposition financed primarily by fossil-fuel money that comes from men like Osterville’s Bill Koch — then Mass Tank could become a truly important national (maybe even international) player in the wind industry.
Recently, I toured Mass Tank with company head Carl Horstmann. In the last 1990s, Carl was an investment banker in New York City. His bank wanted him to go to live in Moscow. He had three kids. Moscow didn’t seem like such a good idea.
Instead, Horstmann decided to buy a business. He liked southeastern New England. It offered beauty, culture, stability. What’s not to like? (Well, winter weather. But that’s another story for another day.)
So he made his home in Marion and bought Mass Tank, a not particularly dynamic business that fabricated fuel-oil tanks like the ones lots of us (including me) have in our basements.
Since then, under Horstmann’s guidance, the company has grown. But he wasn’t satisfied.
Last fall, after Cape Wind finally received its permits, Horstmann called the project’s Boston offices to offer to build the monopiles. He worked hard, made a good presentation and managed to bring the deal off.
I asked Horstmann if he thought that his participation was risky.
“Yes,” he said.
“Then why do it?” I asked.
“Because we have to grow,” he answered.
As an investment banker, Horstmann had learned a lot about Mideast oil politics. Consequently, he sees offshore wind as a national-security issue.
It’s not just Horstmann who’s going to grow. He has a skilled group of employees who will get to grow too. Once the project gets going, people who are welders now will eventually be able to become managers of welders. Kids out of voke-tech schools will get jobs that wouldn’t otherwise be available.
And imagine the jobs that would have been available to these kids years ago, were it not for the vicious opposition of a small group of very rich people who have made it their primary purpose in life to stop American progress in its tracks.
Wendy Williams is the co-author, with Robert Whitcomb, of “Cape Wind.” Her new book — “Kraken: The Curious, Exciting, and Slightly Disburbing Science of Squid” — will be released in March. www.projo.com