How the Albany Port’s $350M Investment Realizes New York’s Wind Dream

The Albany Port's ambitious expansion project is causing a stir not only because of its massive $350 million investment but also due to the intense competition among construction management firms vying for the project through its rigorous procurement roadmap.
New York officials visit Port of Albany
Courtesy: Port of Albany
By | 15 min read

In recent years, as the United States opts for renewable energy sources, offshore wind projects are taking center stage with numerous benefits from job creation to economic growth. New York, as one of the states at the forefront of the offshore wind industry, has aggressively made investments in this space.

Let’s dive into the progress of one of the most promising wind projects taking place at the Port of Albany.

Green Innovation at the Albany Port: A Win for both the Economy and the Environment

As the Port of Albany is a vital transportation hub for the Capital Region of New York State, its operator called The Albany Port District Commission (APDC) is well-known by businesses, government officials, and residents in the region. APDC was created by the laws of the New York State with the authorized mission that empowers the Port to “have power over the survey, development, control, and operation of port facilities and such facilities, with a view to the furtherance of commerce and industries in the district and on the water.”

Under the APDC, the Port of Albany provides over $800 million in annual economic impact to Upstate NY and employs over 5,000 people directly and indirectly. Besides the economic impact, the Port of Albany also contributes to the community, minimizing the environmental impact of port operations and investing in green infrastructure. It has continuously invested in solar panels, energy-efficient lighting, and other measures to reduce its carbon footprint.

Not only is the APDC dedicated to its mission of increasing commerce, but it also capitalizes on marketing the Port and collaborating with regional partners to be a good neighbor on the water. The partnership comes in various forms, whether it’s an investor, collaborator, member, sponsor, or representative.

In this collaborative effort, the APDC regularly issues Requests for Proposals (RFPs) to seek qualified vendors to support various projects and initiatives. Under the Empire State Purchasing group, it has partnered with Bidnet to publish its solicitations with hundreds of agencies across New York, expanding the visibility of bid opportunities for vendors. This platform also allows vendors to submit bids electronically when agencies allow it, making it easier for vendors to participate in the bidding process.

Port of Albany CEO in an interview with local media
Courtesy: Times Union

From Vision to Action: Albany Port’s Role in Fulfilling New York’s Wind Dream

In recent years, the Port of Albany has been actively developing offshore wind manufacturing projects to support the growing offshore wind industry. This is due to the recognition of the potential benefits that the offshore wind industry can bring to the region, including job creation, economic growth, and the promotion of sustainable energy sources.

As the demand for renewable energy continues to increase, the offshore wind industry is gaining momentum globally. With its location on the Hudson River and established infrastructure and transportation links, the Port of Albany is well-positioned to become a hub for offshore wind manufacturing and support the industry’s growth in the region.

By developing offshore wind manufacturing projects, the Port is not only supporting the local economy but also contributing to the transition to a more sustainable energy future. As the world moves towards renewable energy sources, the offshore wind industry is expected to continue to grow, and the Port of Albany’s investments in this sector will position it as a leader in this emerging field.

“The port is the ideal location to build these components and we are excited about the prospect of the area becoming a manufacturing hub for offshore wind,” said Katie Newcombe, Chief Economic Development Officer for the Center for Economic Growth. “With the ongoing expansion of offshore wind power on the East coast, the Port of Albany would become a natural destination for future projects to source components. The economic potential for the NY Capital Region is enormous. We commend New York State leadership for their focused work in developing this industry and will continue our active engagement with local manufacturers to participate.”

Port of Albany staff collaborate with office of general services
Courtesy: Press associate

APDC Takes the Lead in US Offshore Wind Industry with $350M Investment

In January 2021, the Governor of New York State announced a successful bid for the first offshore wind tower manufacturing facility in the U.S as a public-private partnership between the APDC, Equinor Wind US LLC, Marmen Inc., and Welcon A/S joint venture

Equinor is a global energy company that has commissioned the world’s first floating offshore wind farm and holds lease areas for offshore wind projects in the U.S. Marmen, recognized as one of the largest manufacturers of onshore wind towers in North America, is partnered with Welcon, the world’s leading manufacturer of offshore wind towers.

With funding from private, state, and federal sources, the APDC became the owner of this project, which includes the construction of manufacturing facilities totaling 605,000 square feet on approximately 85 acres at the Port of Albany-Rensselaer.

“With this latest solicitation, New York solidifies its commitment to renewable energy and its desire to make the offshore wind industry an important component of the state’s economy,” said Siri Espedal Kindem, President of Equinor Wind U.S. “Equinor is excited about the possibility of expanding its business within New York, and this plan would create the first facility for offshore wind tower and transition piece manufacturing in the U.S. Our proposal helps secure New York and the Port of Albany as a regional leader in this exciting new industry.”

The Port of Albany began construction of the nation’s first offshore wind tower factory after the Bethlehem town planning board unanimously approved the $350 million project, clearing the way for an investment that would create 550 jobs. The ambitious timeline aims for tower production to begin in January 2024 to meet existing agreements, allowing for the Empire Wind 1 project to commence in 2025, and preparing for future U.S. offshore wind projects.

These major expansion projects include the construction of a new manufacturing facility for wind turbine towers. To ensure that this project is completed successfully, the APDC has issued a request for a professional Construction Management (CMR) firm to provide Construction Management at Risk services for the portion of the offshore wind tower manufacturing facility located within the Port of Albany expansion site.

Port of Albany staff collaborate with engineers
Courtesy: Port of Albany

Who’s Calling the Shots? Meet Key Players behind the Bidding Process

Holding an important duty, the project team always calls for attention. In this project, the team consists of staff from various entities, including the APDC, both Engineers of Record, and the expectant Owner’s Representative team. One key member of the team is Virginia Spadaro, the Compliance and Procurement Coordinator.

With her extensive experience and expertise in construction management, Virginia is responsible for managing the procurement and working closely with the selected CMR firm to ensure the project’s successful completion. As the designated staff member for this RFP, Virginia plays a crucial role in the development and execution of the bidding process.

Another character that cannot be overlooked is the eminent Richard J. Hendrick – the APDC’s CEO. As the leader of the APDC, Hendrick is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Port and implementing strategic plans for its development. With over 30 years of experience in the transportation and logistics industry, he has a wealth of expertise in port management, intermodal transportation, and supply chain. He has also overseen the largest capital investment and infrastructure upgrades since the Port was established in 1932, nearing $100 million.

“This is the largest thing the port has ever done,” said Rich Hendrick. “We put all of our efforts into offshore several years ago and this project will be as monumental as building the original port.”

In terms of the procurement, Hendrick’s role involves overseeing the overall process, collaborating closely with the designated staff member, and providing strategic guidance and support throughout the project. He is also responsible for ensuring that the project aligns with the Port of Albany’s overall goals and objectives and meets the highest standards of quality and safety, supporting the growth of the offshore wind industry in the region and contributing to the Port of Albany’s continued success.

Port of Albany CEO
Courtesy: Albany Business Review

One more crucial group of key players is the APDC Committee which is responsible for reviewing and evaluating the proposals submitted by the CMR firms and making recommendations to the APDC for the selection of the most qualified and suitable firm. The APDC Committee Membership for 2022 consists of various committees, including the Audit Committee, Finance Committee, and Governance Committee.

#1. The Audit Committee is chaired by Michael Cinguanti and includes Joseph Colley, Dominic Tagen, Waren Abril, and Georgette Scien as members. The committee is responsible for overseeing the financial reporting process, internal controls, and audit activities of the APDC.

#2. The Finance Committee is chaired by Joseph Coffey and includes Michael Cinquanti, Dominic Taglcnio, Warren Abncl, and Georgette Steffens as members. The committee is responsible for overseeing the APDC’s budget and financial operations, including investments, debt management, and revenue generation.

#3. The Governance Committee is chaired by Dominic Tagliento and includes Michael Cinquanti, Joseph Coffey, Warren Abricl, and Georgette Steffens as members. The committee is responsible for overseeing the APDC’s corporate governance practices, including board structure and composition, bylaws, and policies and procedures.

Once the APDC Committee has completed its evaluation, it will submit its recommendations to the APDC for final approval. Overall, the APDC Committee’s role is critical to ensuring that the project is completed successfully, on time, and within budget. By carefully evaluating the proposals submitted by the CMR firms, the Committee can ensure that the APDC selects the most qualified and capable firm to manage the project and ensure its successful completion.

The Quest for the Right Fit

Port of Albany leadership team collaborate with NY officials
Courtesy: Port of Albany

Some Bold Goals Unveiled

From the beginning of every project, defining the target is always the top priority so that the whole rest of the process is directed toward it. In this case, the APDC has announced several important goals including building a professional and collaborative project team among all parties involved, optimizing the project schedule to achieve both high-quality and timely delivery, reducing risk and costs, and utilizing local labor and certified M/WBE firms. Last but not least, the APDC is committed to maintaining public trust and confidence in the project and in harmony with the surrounding environment.

Join the Race: APDC Invites Respondents to Compete

At the time the RFP was issued, the APDC desired to hunt for a firm that can manage the project within a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) based on a set of construction drawings and specifications. The chosen partner should have the qualifications, expertise, and ability to perform the work, execute the schedule and deliver the project competitively.

The successful proposer will function as the CMR on the project, working closely with the APDC, the project partnership, and the design team. The APDC encouraged potential respondents to thoroughly review the project documents to ensure that they align with their past project experience, current workload, financial capacity, and overall business model.

A Look into APDC’s Selection Process: Which qualifications count?

Back to the jumping-off point, the procurement process for the CMR begins with the issuance of the RFP, then followed by a proposal submission period. The submission will include the “Technical Proposal” in which the proposer addresses the requirements for their technical approach to the work, and the “Price Proposal” in which the proposer submits their competitively priced information in accordance with the request.

Prior to reviewing the respondent’s complete submission, each submission will be evaluated based on the following Pass/Fail Criteria:

  1. Responsiveness: The APDC will evaluate the submitted proposal and statement of qualifications to ensure that they comply with the requirements of the request without any significant deviations.
  2. Experience: The respondent must demonstrate experience in providing construction management services for a project with a construction cost of at least $100 million, including the delivery of guaranteed maximum price, construction, and post-construction services.
  3. Legality: This evaluation criterion measures the respondent’s legal ability to enter a CMR contract and perform the work. The respondent must present evidence to show that its organization has the legal ability to enter a CMR contract and perform the Work.
  4. Financial Capacity: The respondent must prove their ability to provide the required bonds, insurance, and guarantees, and meet other financial requirements for undertaking and completing the work.
  5. Vendor Responsibility: This criterion assesses the respondent’s integrity and performance record. It requires the respondent to prove that it has a clean record without any integrity or performance issues that could negatively impact its capacity to deliver the project under the CMR.
vendors and contractors attend a pre-bid conference
Courtesy: Port of Albany

Where the Real Game Starts

Once proposals are received, they will be reviewed, and potential interviews may be conducted to make more evaluations until the Notice to Prospective CMR is issued and the highest-rated proposer is recommended for contract award. The APDC is committed to a fair and thorough selection process. As part of the procurement, interested firms can arrange a site visit by contacting Virginia Spadaro. 

The APDC intends to use a two-step procurement and contract process to select and engage the CMR, which utilizes qualifications and the Best Value selection process followed by a GMP. For purposes of this RFP, Best Value is the highest overall evaluation score considering key evaluation criteria such as qualifications, experience, technical approach, and cost of CMR services.

Max. Rating PointsShort List Rating Criteria Categories
25Specialized experience and technical competence, as well as management quality, reputation, and references.
25Ability to perform work, including specialized services, innovative construction alternatives, and understanding of relevant management, technical, and risk mitigation issues.
20Past performance with similar waterfront and manufacturing development projects, considering successful close-out, environmental permit compliance, adjacent maritime operations, and effective public outreach.
20Approach to meet project budget, implement quality control, and ensure safety while adhering to the Project Delivery Work Schedule.
10Plans for encouraging participation by M/WBE and SDVOB and local hiring in connection with the Services

National vs Regional: Gilbane and BERNARD & DA COLLINS Battle for the CMR Role

Gilbane and BERNARD & DA COLLINS were the two finalists to be the construction manager for the wind tower manufacturing plant at the Port of Albany in Bethlehem, New York. Both companies have experience in the construction industry, including experience in managing large and complex projects.

Gilbane is a national construction management firm that has been in business for over 150 years. They have a powerful reputation for their ability to deliver high-quality projects on time and within budget. The firm provides a full slate of construction and facilities-related services for clients across various market sectors, including commercial office, multi-unit, and high-rise residential, cultural, education, healthcare, public sector, science, and technology, and mission-critical.

On the other hand, BERNARD & DA COLLINS is a regional construction management firm based in upstate New York that has a strong commitment to quality and customer satisfaction. They have been in business for over 100 years and have experience in managing projects across a wide range of industries, including healthcare, education, and transportation.

The result of the bidding evaluation was released on May 22, 2022, with Gilbane emerging as the winner with an average rating of 93 over BERNARD & DA COLLINS, whose average rating was 57.4. This suggests that Gilbane had a stronger overall proposal in terms of meeting the evaluation criteria with their experience in managing large and complex projects, their strong commitment to safety, sustainability, and innovation, and their reputation for delivering high-quality projects on time and within budget.

“Gilbane is proud to support New York’s efforts to build a clean energy future,” said Keith Leal, Vice President & Upstate New York Business Unit Leader. “This new manufacturing hub is a critical investment and will drive opportunity and growth for the Capitol region and beyond. We look forward to working with the Port of Albany, the State of New York, and our trade partners to maximize diverse business and workforce participation and to deliver this transformational project.”

Inflation Threatens Wind Tower Manufacturing Plant, but New York is Not Backing Down

Although a solid partnership has been built, risks are still unavoidable. The Port of Albany’s wind tower project is now facing significant dangers due to the escalating material costs that threaten the construction of the nation’s first offshore wind tower manufacturing plant. “We know the cost overruns are a big challenge,” said Assemblymember Patricia Fahy, a Democrat from Albany. “There have been quite a few hiccups along the way.” 

Meanwhile, the president of Marmen, one of the companies involved in the Albany project, recognizes that they are not the only ones facing budget adjustments due to inflation. The players involved in the project were aware of the potential challenges that inflation could cause when it started in 2021.

Despite these challenges, the Albany project must continue as its importance for the region cannot be overstated. It is critical for the region’s economic development, job creation, and New York’s opportunity to lead in the renewable energy sector. The project team and all partners involved have been doing their best to find ways to overcome these obstacles, ensuring that the project delivers on its promise, and sets an example for future offshore wind investments across the U.S.

a construction site at Port of Albany
Courtesy: Albany Business Review

A Game Changer for New York’s Economy: Why It’s Worth?

There is no doubt that The Albany Port wind tower project is a critical initiative that aligns with the state’s strategy to become a leader in combating climate change. It is tied to New York’s goal of constructing 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind along the Atlantic Coast by 2035, and it is projected to create up to 10,000 jobs with average salaries of $100,000 per year in the offshore wind industry over the next several years.

“The project remains as important for us as when we quoted it for the first time [more than three years ago],” said Marmen president Patrick Pellerin. “Since that time, the market itself in the U.S. seems even more interesting.”

The project has been in development for over three years, and the market for offshore wind in the U.S. seems promising. It could provide an immediate economic boost to the area, as it recovers from the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The economic potential for the NY Capital Region is enormous, positioning the Port of Albany as a natural destination for future offshore wind projects to source components.

“The construction of the Wind Tower Manufacturing Facility at the Port of Albany is a critical project for our region,” said Richard Hendrick, Port of Albany CEO. “The project will generate much-needed economic development and provide an opportunity and strengthen our neighborhoods by ensuring equity in minority, women, and service-disabled veteran-owned business opportunities. We are looking forward to seeing substantial growth in the number of contracts awarded to our local certified firms, as well as creating peer mentorship programming to enhance the network of qualified MWBE suppliers.”

The Bottom Lines

The project is too important for New York to fail as it represents an opportunity to create well-paying manufacturing and position New York as a leader in the emerging offshore wind industry. Now with Gilbane as a strong construction manager at risk after the successful RPF process, all stakeholders involved must work together to overcome the challenges. If successful, the Albany Port wind tower project could be a model for other offshore wind investments across the U.S.

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