After years of touting projected economic benefits to the Commonwealth, Cape Wind and its turbine provider, Siemens, recently inked a $100-plus million contract with Maine-based Cianbro Corp. to construct substantial elements of the offshore wind development planned for the Massachusetts coast.
Cianbro will primarily fabricate electrical service platforms in Brewer, Maine – read: not in the Commonwealth, where unemployment stands at 7.1 percent statewide and 10.3 percent in metropolitan New Bedford – a boon for the Penobscot County city 300 miles from Cape Cod. The contract presumably qualifies Cape Wind for key federal tax credits.
In 2003, Cape Wind President James Gordon agreed with area building trade guilds to utilize skilled, qualified, predominately local labor earning fair wages and benefits. Since then, those very workers have repeatedly lobbied regulators and logged hundreds of miles traveling to hearings in support of Cape Wind – all despite unrelenting, well-financed opposition.
Like Gordon, working craftspeople embraced a mutual interest in a cleaner environment, stable electric costs and increased energy security – especially in the midst of a paralyzing economic recession that disproportionately hammered the construction industry.
A multimillion-dollar smooch to Maine not only snubs the thousands of Massachusetts electricians and contractors who are still under-employed, but also sends the wrong message to other trades – ironworkers, carpenters, laborers – waiting on the bench for America’s first offshore wind farm to break ground.
So much for a gust of local job creation.
Matthew Lash is assistant executive director of the National Electrical Contractors Association of Greater Boston.
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