DARTMOUTH — Newly minted Gov. Maura Healey visited UMass Dartmouth on Tuesday, sitting down with academic, state and local leaders to discuss the region’s growing role in national climate resiliency. 

It was Healey’s first official stop in the commonwealth outside of Boston since she was inaugurated last week. 

The meeting came on the heels of a letter, sent by a diverse group of local civic and business leaders, calling on Healey to adopt approaches to offshore wind development that would centralize the burgeoning industry in the Port of New Bedford and secure a windfall of economic development for a region struggling with high unemployment and low investment.


Healey described the South Coast as “a place with limitless potential” for renewable energy innovation. She stopped short of committing to any direct policies that would help the state, or the region, better compete for offshore wind investment. But she said a major component is in building out a workforce pipeline, through education, to promote “what can be a huge engine for economic development.” 

“We’re about Massachusetts competing,” she said of the state’s approach to offshore wind. “We think this is an area where we can compete hard. And we want to win.” 

Healey sat at a U-shaped table with elected officials, UMass Dartmouth students and faculty, and members of her newly appointed cabinet, which includes a new position in state government — Climate Chief Melissa Hoffer, whose role involves streamlining policy-making on climate issues, Healey said. 

The UMass Dartmouth students informed the governor of their projects in the fields of both renewable energy and fisheries science. It included one student studying alternative sources for biofuel, another who recently returned from a research expedition in the Arctic, and a former petroleum geologist, now securing his PhD in geotechnical engineering for offshore wind. 

“This is a city not just of big shoulders, but of big brains,” Mayor Jon Mitchell explained, demonstrating his vision of the South Coast not just as a hub for labor, but also as an epicenter of business and research for the offshore wind industry. 

“We’ve been at the end of the energy highway for years, relying on one source of energy from the Gulf of Mexico,” said state Rep. Chris Markey. “We are now going to create our own hub, our own Gulf of Mexico, here in Buzzards Bay. We will become that if we do this right.” 

Healey assumed office as the offshore wind industry is experiencing some growing pains. The state recently rejected a request from Commonwealth Wind to scrap its energy agreement with the state, citing inflation and supply chain issues that the developer said threatens the commercial viability of its project. The decision frustrated Commonwealth Wind’s parent company Avangrid, which is also backing other major offshore wind projects off the East Coast, including Vineyard Wind. 

“We are just going to move forward,” said Healey, of the snag with Commonwealth Wind. “This is an incredibly important industry. Massachusetts has an opportunity to make its mark, not only nationally, but globally.”

She continued: “You’ll see our administration do everything we can to work with 

industry, and with others, so Massachusetts is the leader.” 

Email Will Sennott at wsennott@newbedfordlight.org.

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