Islanders a fraction of Vineyard Wind workforce, so far

Many of the jobs for Vineyard Wind are going to the mainland, but opportunities for Islanders are on the horizon.

The on-Island headquarters of Vineyard Wind under construction. —Eunki Seonwoo

The Island will have to wait a bit longer before more residents are hired for the Vineyard Wind project. 

Vineyard Wind recently touted in a press release that 937 union workers have been hired so far for its construction phase. The second annual report on Vineyard Wind’s employment and economic impact, prepared by UMass Dartmouth and research firm Springline Research Group, shows that among the 757 Massachusetts-based union workers hired by the offshore wind developer, only one person was from Dukes County. 

Dukes County is the county with the lowest number of union workers — excluding Nantucket County and other counties that did not have any union workers in the headcount — both in the state and in Southeastern Massachusetts. Sixty-nine union workers are from Barnstable County, 176 are from Plymouth, and 380 are from Bristol County, the county with the most union workers on Vineyard Wind projects.

Vineyard Wind is providing construction work under a project labor agreement, which stipulates details like wages and other benefits. The developer had a goal of creating 500 union construction jobs under the agreement, according to a July 2021 press release, with much of the labor to come from local unions. However, the report states that limitations placed on Vineyard Wind led to some difficulties in finding eligible contractors and suppliers. 

Among the 986 nonunion workers, 72 percent were from Massachusetts, of whom 32 percent were from the southeastern parts of the state. 

David Borges, principal at Springline Research Group and co-author of the report, told The Times that just seven full-time nonunion workers for the project were from Dukes County. 

According to Borges, the construction workers count encompassed those working on all Vineyard Wind construction projects, including the Vineyard Wind headquarters in Tisbury, currently being built by East Falmouth–based contractors Dellbrook JKS. The firm also constructed Vineyard Wind’s hangar at Martha’s Vineyard Airport. 

“Unfortunately, we don’t have the exact number of workers hired,” Dellbrook JKS spokesperson Emma Barrett told The Times when asked how many of the firm’s workers on Vineyard Wind projects were from the Island. She did say that Vineyard companies — such as Action Cleaning, Teles Landscaping, Crossland Landscape, Crane Appliance, and Goodale Concrete, among others — were hired for the on-Island projects as subcontractors.

Kevin Rose, president of the International Longshoremen’s Association, a union in New Bedford, says that one reason that many workers aren’t coming from the Vineyard to work on construction may be because of a commute. Some work associated with the ongoing construction work is based out of the South Coast. Workers would have to take a ferry to the mainland before being shipped out to the ocean job site. “That’s an added expense,” Rose said.

While the numbers are lagging on the construction side of the project, authors of the Springline Group report note that local hirings will likely come later in the project. 

Borges said the operations and maintenance phase will bring a boost to Islanders working at Vineyard Wind. “You’ll see those numbers go up in the coming months,” he said. 

Vineyard Wind officials have stated the project will create 90 jobs on-Island, with expectations that half of the workers will be living on Martha’s Vineyard. The developer is looking to arrange housing for workers who do not already have housing. 

“We are already hiring for [operations and maintenance],” Vineyard Wind communications director Andrew Doba told The Times in an email. “But until we have the different facilities completed, we’ll be working toward the overall goal.”

Vineyard Wind director of labor, workforce, and local content Jennifer Cullen told The Times nine local operations and maintenance workers have been hired so far, and are working “hand in hand” with construction workers to ensure a “smooth handover” during the next phase. When asked about the project timeline, Cullen said there wasn’t a “hard and fast” date, but Vineyard facilities are expected to be completed by early summer. 

Vineyard Wind has conducted recruitment efforts, like hosting job fairs and holding office hours at the Vineyard Power office in Tisbury for employment information. The developer also committed $15 million toward an Accelerator Fund, $2 million of it going toward the development of an offshore wind workforce in Southeastern Massachusetts, according to the report. 

Additionally, Vineyard Wind is pushing potential opportunities with companies they are contracted with for the offshore wind project, such as GE Renewable Energy, Semco Maritime, Windea CTV LLC, and others. According to Cullen, most employees maintaining and operating the project will be hired by these companies. 

State Rep. Dylan Fernandes, D-Falmouth, said that the Springline report focused on job creation during the current construction phase, which is largely based in New Bedford. He also said the report shows that the number of union jobs created were “nearly twice as high as originally projected.” 

“The Vineyard is the operations base for Vineyard Wind, not the construction base,” Fernandes told The Times, adding the operations phase is expected to start in mid-2024. “Unlike the construction phase, the operations positions on the Vineyard will last for decades, ensuring the community benefits from these lasting opportunities.” 

Vineyard Wind also maintains that they did try to recruit local workers. The company’s director of labor, Cullen, told The Times that while the offshore wind developer was not at the “long-term” operations and maintenance phase yet, efforts were made to prioritize hiring local workers for the on-Island construction projects, even over union labor. While there were a few Vineyard contractors who were a part of on-Island projects, most of the workers were from elsewhere. 

“Construction is booming everywhere in Southeastern Mass. right now,” Cullen said, adding that Vineyard Wind was also competing for labor with other construction work. “It’s not for a lack of trying.” 

The report does state that recruitment was currently more difficult because of record low unemployment rates on national and state levels, with a “particularly intense” competition for labor in the construction and building trades sector. “It is very difficult to persuade workers to pursue a new career and complete specialized training and certification in an environment where jobs paying competitive wages with no such requirements are readily available,” the report states. 

Additionally, delays in the project, some weather-based, can have “cascading effects” on whether local workers in the training pipeline work for Vineyard Wind or for a different employer, where they can start earning wages immediately. Vineyard Wind has experienced delays. Representatives from Avangrid, the energy company that owns half the offshore wind project, announced that power would start being delivered by October, which was later pushed back to the end of 2023. Then, after missing the 2023 goal, the project did achieve its first power delivery on Tuesday, Jan. 2, announced in a press release. 

“Due to the relatively small workforce that has the full offshore capabilities and limited, industry-specific training capacity, it is very difficult to train backup workers with short notice,” the report states.

The primary organization that connects Islanders with offshore wind industry education and certification is ACE MV, which graduated its first cohort in 2022. The nonprofit partners with Bristol Community College (Offshore Wind Power Technology certificate) and Massachusetts Maritime Academy (Global Wind Organization’s Basic Technical Training) to provide education. ACE MV received seed funding from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to launch this initiative. 

So far, 10 Islanders have earned certification through Bristol Community College, and another six individuals earned certification from the Maritime Academy, according to ACE MV director of programming Courtney Daly. 

Cullen with Vineyard Wind told The Times that Ace MV has been a key resource in getting individuals certified, and that the wind developer is eager to hire as many Islanders as possible, although getting qualified individuals from the Island may be an additional challenge. “There aren’t that many certified across the country,” she said. 

However, the report states that the developer should be able to benefit from a larger regional supply of “work-ready workers” in the future, even if they are not currently working in the offshore wind industry. This would be particularly so if workforce development efforts are successful. 

A different issue Vineyard Wind faced was that expenses, including hiring, have been higher than initially projected. 

Borges said there were a few primary reasons for the higher output of costs for the developer. One of the factors is that the development phase took two years longer than expected, so some people were on Vineyard Wind’s payroll for longer than planned.

Additionally, overall costs have increased. “Even more so after COVID,” Borges said, pointing to goods and services becoming more expensive. Additionally, he said the increase in labor costs has also seen an uptick, which is even higher for union workers’ wages.

Borges also mentioned that Vineyard Wind, like many industries, had experienced supply-chain issues. 

“Even with Massachusetts-based suppliers, things are certainly more expensive,” he said.


  1. This facility was promised to employ 28 islanders in year one, 42 in year2 and 56 in year three. Sounds like they are struggling to meet their commitment to the community. Wonder where else they are failing?

    • John— you can’t hire people who don’t apply. I am sure there are plenty of Mexicans would be willing to work for them

        • John, sure–V.W could offer $250 an hour for
          people to push brooms, but then people would
          complain about the high price of electricity.

        • They are recruiting, they hired my son to drive one of their boats.
          He doesn’t know of any other Islanders who have applied.
          Obviously some Islanders are good at getting good jobs, some are not.

          They do not hire malcontents who refuse to vaccinate, or pee in a cup, or won’t follow orders.

    • Professional windfarm employees will be easily be able to afford Island housing.
      Real estate owners will get rich off the windfarm.

  2. I’m curious why people are opposed to the windmills—they provide clean energy. Are you also opposed to solar? Nuclear? Coal? Natural gas from Russia? Where is your line in the sand? And why?

    • I am all for turning wind into electricity in an economically productive way. My fear is that this will never be achieved by a for-profit foreign corporation offshore in the open North Atlantic.

      • It’s been proven in the open North Sea.
        Is the foreign important?
        That would be anti-capitalist
        Smells of Communism.

        • Of course the foreign is important. They build them, they get paid, and they leave. I don’t think it takes a communist to see the potential in this for problems. A recent New York Times article reports that many of the planned wind farms on the east coast are being reduced or canceled due to cost overrides (as in, not enough profit and poor planning). If the technology is there and building them out in the ocean is viable, why are our own electricity producers not building them? I drive cross country several times a year and pass through huge wind farms (they actually are quite beautiful). At any given time 20 – 40% are not turning and some have vanes on the ground. All they have to do there is drive up to them for repairs. I am a proponent of clean energy, but I worry about hostile environments and profit margins.

      • Scott, it appears to me that the company understands how much money 💰 can be made by building windmills. The Chinese are building renewable energy projects faster than any country on the planet. They aren’t doing it to go broke!

        • I am positive they know exactly how much money can be made building them. I’m not sure they know or care what maintaining them will cost. Guess we have to hope for the best.

  3. There are lots of jobs for boat builders.
    Gladding and Hearn is turning down work.
    Islanders could ride the high speed ferries we all want.

  4. Vineyard Wind has been a slap in the face to the island. They should cut their losses and cancel this farce!!!

    • Wes, why do you consider being able to see the means of production of electricity a slap in the face of the Island. Was the coal plant in Somerset a slap in the face to Somerset, did you enjoy the power?
      Everyone who who uses electricity should be slapped in the face, not just poor people.

      • I agree Wes. The “clean” energy thing is an absolute farce.

        There are additional drawbacks. They are not “green”, taking account of greenhouse gases released in manufacture and transport, material needs, servicing, lubrication, service life of less than 20 years and demolition. The huge blades demand landfill burial and they have been killing whales.

        Anyone with common sense should see this project should have been dismantled from the beginning.

        • Finally, some common sense.

          There is really very little of it in evidence on the Island.

          At least, not in the comment threads of the MV Times.

          Meanwhile, keep up the maintenance on your ICE vehicle!

        • How long did the Somerset coal plant redo last?
          Plymouth Nuclear produced power for 47 years. It had huge maintenance expenses. The site cleanup will take another decade. A century for the waste fuel rods.
          The used blades are an excellent road building material, it needs scale.

          Do you have reliable source for the whale deaths from wind turbine operations? Marine hydrocarbon extraction and transportation?

  5. Wes, are you perhaps in the windmill business? Are you aware that the company is experiencing losses? Or that they will be guaranteed business losses in the future? It’s fascinating to me how powerful the oil companies are at producing effective propaganda to make people believe that fossil fuels are preferable to clean energy options. When people talk about how much mining and environmental damage is done by creating batteries or windmills, those people haven’t considered how much more mining (by factors of 100s or 1000s) that traditional energy pulls out of the ground. How many pounds of earth comes out of the ground for your car in one year? How about a lifetime supply of solar batteries? The batteries are less.

    • Mary, there have been many reports in the mainstream press about the financial problems of the very companies that own and are constructing Vineyard Wind. I have posted them here myself. I guess you didn’t see them, so go and look for yourself.

      In the meantime, please also supply some stats on the EROI of wind turbines, EVs, etc.

      And please don’t bother to call the fire department when your EV battery explodes and causes a fire. These fires are practically impossible to put out. I just pray that this does not occur on one of our ferries.

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