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Green Energy Project To Transform Port Of Albany, South End

Assemblywoman Pat Fahy at the podium, with officials at the Port of Albany.
Dave Lucas
Assemblywoman Pat Fahy at the podium, with officials at the Port of Albany.

Officials are celebrating the selection of the Port of Albany as the first offshore wind tower manufacturing site in the United States.

"Can we, rewind the clocks, fast forward them and make today New Year's Day, please? I think the reason you see us all assembled is we're all pretty desperate for good news, and it couldn't get any better than this!'

Democratic State Assemblywoman Pat Fahy is lauding hundreds of new green energy jobs coming to the Port of Albany, where the nation's first offshore wind tower manufacturing facility is set to be constructed. The goal is to manufacture 150 offshore wind towers annually. In his State of the State address, Governor Andrew Cuomo said the facility will lead to 500 construction jobs and 300 long-term jobs for highly skilled workers.

Officials say the Port's 80-acre Town of Bethlehem expansion site will be transformed into a world class manufacturing facility and maritime operation. State Senator Neil Breslin hailed the move as critically important at a desperate economic time.

"It's going to be jobs and jobs for a lot of folks that are within almost walking distance. It's a tremendous, tremendous boost."

Albany County Legislator Carolyn McLaughlin says the project presents tremendous opportunities for South End residents, as the project partners have committed to supporting local workforce development, training and recruitment programs for the nearby environmental justice community.

"It's so important. The training facility is gonna be an educational opportunity for young people to get them interested in the sciences again, and to bring it to the forefront. That's the kind of stuff that we, as community leaders, gotta put out there. It's not just about the job, but we wanna prepare you for the job so you can keep the job, long-term and grow your family here in this community.

Albany County Executive Dan McCoy has concerns about people who live near the port.

"First and foremost that's always been my concern with the bomb trains and the tractor-trailers that have gone through there. I know Mayor Sheehan and the councilwoman and the legislator have addressed that with traffic patterns and stuff like that to get 'em away from these neighborhoods. And a lot of it is gonna be boat traffic that's gonna go down the Hudson, so they won't see as much here. But it is something that we've gotta continue to work with. We got the most the most environmentally-friendly project going, we gotta be the same way to the neighborhood."

First Ward Common Councilor Sonia Frederick addressed concerns about residents living in the nearby Ezra Prentice complex.

"Something I'm going to along with other elected officials is continue to advocate for the decommissioning of South Pearl as a truck route. In order to do that they're going to develop that inner port road, but we gotta keep pushing and advocating for that decommissioning because that increased traffic is not going to be good for the community."

Components of the project will include a new state-of-the-art wharf, a new bridge, new and improved internal roadways and more than 600,000 square feet of manufacturing space in four buildings.

Marmen, an onshore wind turbine manufacturer based in Quebec, and Welcon, a Denmark-based manufacturer of offshore wind towers, will participate in the project along with Equinor Wind.

Albany Port District Commission Chairperson Georgette Steffens:

“We sat down four years ago and said ‘What should we do? What is? We are landlocked, you know what we have a certain type of industry, how do we diversify? Should we grow, should we expand?’ And through that strategic planning process, it brought us to today. It was a very, you know, step by step. Finding federal and state grants, finding advocates and supporters like we have behind us, and it's brought us to today. And I just want to say we are thrilled to be working with Equinor and Marmen and we are ready to go.”

With total project investment pegged at upwards of $350 million, construction is expected to begin in 2022.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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