Over 340 elected officials urge responsible offshore wind development to help tackle the climate crisis and stabilize energy prices
June 20, 2022
By Ramona du Houx
With Sen. Manchin’s apparent decision that he will not vote for climate provisions in the reconciliation bill, Elected Officials to Protect America (EOPA) urge more leases for offshore wind be made available immediately.
Offshore wind has the potential to provide more than 2,000 gigawatts (GW) of energy in the United States — two times the present generation of the entire U.S. electric grid, according to a National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimate. It's stronger and more consistent than onshore wind day and night. Hence, the Biden Administration offshore wind development plans are moving forward with momentum from coast-to-coast, but more could be done.
Elected Officials to Protect America (EOPA), a non-profit group of elected officials who are working to solve the climate crisis, held a nationwide virtual press conference on offshore wind projects, comparing progress and highlighting its economic benefits while asking for more offshore wind leases for development and an accelerated leasing process.The above is the full EOPA press conference on offshore wind from coast to coast.
Oil and gas volatile price fluctuations, and the dirty fossil fuel pollution its industry causes are plaguing Americans. The price at the pump is outrageous. The good news is that a clean energy economy has the power to insulate America from these dangers to our health, livelihoods and security. What we need is more renewable, clean energy sources. According to the Offshore Wind for America report, New England could generate more than five times its projected 2050 electricity demand with offshore wind alone.
“Offshore wind has the potential to be the biggest lever that we can pull to reduce our emissions, address the climate crisis, meet our energy needs, and grow our economy simultaneously. It’s poised to become a $1 trillion industry by 2040, creating thousands of good-paying jobs, providing clean renewable energy, and spurring economic growth, “said Dominic Frongillo, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Elected Officials to Protect America (EOPA), former Councilmember and Deputy Supervisor Caroline, New York. “Elected Officials to Protect America fully supports the responsible buildout of offshore wind for America and sees it as a key component to solving the man-made climate crisis.”
EOPA has letters for New York, New Jersey and California signed by elected officials in their respective states backing responsible offshore wind development. Collectively, 340 elected officials have signed with more signing daily.
The Biden administration’s offshore wind goal of 30 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2030 will easily be met with current offshore wind projects in development. Already, 11 states have more than 35 gigawatts of offshore wind projects in their combined pipeline, and two commercial-scale offshore wind farms are now under construction: the South Fork Wind farm near Long Island, New York, and the Vineyard Wind project off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.
“Offshore wind farms have the potential to generate thousands of new jobs and billions of dollars in annual economic impact ranging from port development to construction, maintenance, and repair jobs, and supply-chain jobs.'' said John Polimeni, City Councilman Schenectady, NY, Associate Professor of Economics. “These new jobs, including health and retirement benefits, would spur economic growth by creating more disposable income that will be spent in the housing sector and stores, restaurants and bars in the surrounding areas creating a multiplier effect that would benefit thousands more, as well as the increased tax revenues to state and local municipalities that can be used for further economic development in infrastructure and other projects.”
Earlier this year, developers bid a record $4.37 billion to lease areas off the coasts of New York and New Jersey.
At least nine major component facilities are in development to make the foundations, towers, cables and blades used in offshore wind turbines across the U.S.A. The Port of Albany, has already been awarded $29.5 million for its Offshore Wind Tower Manufacturing Project. It will be one of the first large-scale offshore wind tower manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and is expected to create about 500 construction jobs and 550 manufacturing and support jobs.
The $1.5 million Albany South End Workforce Training Center will prepare the local workforce for hundreds of new clean energy jobs at the Port of Albany, which is vital to achieve equity in the historically underserved South End, removing employment barriers through support programs in childcare, education, and career assistance.
“Equity and equality must be first and foremost for any responsible offshore wind developments. I’m proud to say that New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) includes frontline communities in the manufacturing, development, and generation of offshore wind power and requires 35 percent of benefits accrue to underserved communities. It also supports the Biden administration’s twin energy and equity goals,” said William Reinhardt, Albany County Legislator, EOPA New York Leadership Council. “Another plus for the build out of offshore wind is that Coastal and Great Lakes states account for almost 80 percent of U.S. electricity demand, which means this clean energy can supply electricity for the majority of Americans by powering major population centers. Offshore wind is our future.”
The Great Lakes is an untapped offshore wind resource with more than 700 gigawatts, representing one-fifth of America’s total offshore wind potential. New York is a member of the Great Lakes Offshore Wind Energy Consortium, which supports the efficient and responsible review of proposed offshore wind energy projects in the Great Lakes.
As of 2021, there were only two operational offshore wind projects in U.S. waters with a total of seven turbines. The Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island became operational in 2016 with five turbines that generate approximately 30 MW. A second project, the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind pilot project — a 12 MW wind farm off the coast of Virginia—became operational in June 2020 and consists of only two turbines in federal waters.
In November 2021, Vineyard Wind, the first commercial-scale offshore wind project in the United States, began construction off the coast of Massachusetts with approximately 9 GW to be operational by 2026.
Rhode Island worked with federal, local and state stakeholders, from fishermen, residents, businesses and other community members to ensure everyone’s concerns were heard and headed in a realistic way before construction. Coast guard studies helped guide their Block Island offshore wind development with certain specifications on the sizing and placement of the turbines to minimize burdens on the commercial fishermen. Once the turbines were in place and operational, muscles and vegetation grew on the turbine’s pions, which created a new environment for fish to thrive. As a result, fishermen now conduct tours of the wind-farm as well as catch the fish. Now, tourism is up because of the development and the clean energy provided costs are reliable and don’t increase because of world markets, as fossil fuel prices do.
Of the 14 states along the Atlantic seaboard, 12 have the potential to produce more electricity from offshore wind than they used in 2019, and seven have the potential to produce more than they are projected to use in 2050, according to the Offshore Wind for America report.A rendering of the projected New Jersey port for offshore wind
In essence, the Atlantic seaboard could produce more than four times New Jersey’s current energy demand. With strong, consistent offshore wind and a wide, shallow continental shelf economical deployment of offshore wind off New Jersey’s coast is ideal using existing fix bed technology.
Routine flooding near Atlantic City has increased from less than once a year between 1950 and 1960 to about eight times a year between 2007 and 2019.
“Climate change is undeniable for anyone who lives in a coastal community. But I’m hopeful because Governor Murphy is taking action to mitigate the problem, and thousands of green energy skilled jobs will be created in the process,” said Atlantic County Commissioner Caren Fitzpatrick, EOPA New Jersey Leadership Council. “Our clean energy economy that he is helping build with offshore wind development is key to our future. Alone, it could supply 92 percent of all our electricity needs. Add solar and land wind power to the mix and we could eliminate our dependency on fossil fuels for electricity, meet the state goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2050, and sharply reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.”
The country’s largest permitted project is Ocean Wind, 15 miles off Atlantic City, and will be barely visible. It will produce 1,100-megawatts when operational in 2024 and spur thousands of highly skilled jobs. Ocean Wind is projected to reduce carbon emissions by 2.2 million tons annually — the equivalent of taking 400,000 cars off the road — and provide a reliable and scalable source of energy, immune to supply shortages and price shocks.
On July 13th, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced that it will conduct a regional environmental review of six lease areas offshore New York and New Jersey, in an area known as the New York Bight. Leases for these six areas were awarded through BOEM’s February 2022 auction that brought in over $4.3 billion, a record amount for any U.S. offshore renewable or conventional energy lease sale. During the public comment period, BOEM will hold three virtual public meetings: July 28, 2022 – 5 p.m. ET, August 2, 2022 – 5 p.m. ET and August 4, 2022 – 1 p.m. ET.
Information this regional environmental review of the New York Bight, including a map of the six lease areas; how to register for the virtual meetings, and how to provide comments can be found on BOEM’s website: https://www.boem.gov/renewable-energy/state-activities/new-york-bight.
The Offshore Wind for America report emphasized that a regional effort to develop offshore wind will be critical for its efficient and responsible development.
Floating offshore wind turbines in Europe. Similar designs are projected for CA as the will be located in deep water, where the winds blow stronger
“Offshore wind has already brought economic opportunities to New York and we’re excited for the day when we will see its clean, non-stop energy help us transition to a clean energy economy. We’re pleased and welcome the new federal regional approach, as our wind energy resources will be shared regionally. On Long Island we value our natural environment and see harmony working with it to continue to develop responsible offshore wind,” said Sylvia Overby, East Hampton, Councilmember, NY. “European wind farms have taken this approach and have built the expertise, supply chains, and workforce to support their industry while protecting the environment. In 2020 alone, more than $31.7 billion of investments were made in new offshore wind assets in Europe.”
The bulk of the nation’s offshore wind resources, about 60 percent, are in areas where the water is so deep that the large steel piles or lattice structures fixed to the seabed can’t be used. In these federal waters large-scale floating wind farms would be located, so far out to sea in most cases they won’t be visible from shore. These are the types of offshore floating farms that will be off of the Californian coast.
“Offshore wind holds incredible promise as a means to help tackle the climate crisis while also creating economic opportunity, and Morro Bay is uniquely poised to reap the benefits,” said Dr. John Headding, Mayor, Morro Bay. “We're excited that CA will have the opportunity to demonstrate to other states the benefits of the floating offshore wind designs for deep water. These floating offshore wind platforms will be distant objects on the horizon generating power day and night, easing our transition off of dangerous fossil fuels."
The combined lease areas of Morro Bay and Humboldt County in California will generate 4,5 gigawatts and power 1.6 million homes.
The states that are currently building out offshore wind with fixed bottom turbines will eventually run out of space to put them. That’s when the demand for all deep-water locations in the US and around the world will come into play.
The future increased electrical need—
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report said, in order to save the planet from catastrophic weather extremes, countries must stop using fossil fuels. The necessity to have more clean energy resources will expand as we build out our electric systems to accommodate electric heating and electric transportation. That’s where increased offshore wind farms in deep waters will be needed.
“The lack of federal investment for the climate crisis could be mitigated some by more leases becoming available for development. This dynamic clean, renewable energy sector will revitalize the economy with thousands of skilled jobs while helping to prevent some of the most devastating effects of the climate crisis. Offshore wind energy is key to a prosperous healthy future,” added Frongillo, Executive Director and Co-Founder of EOPA.
Offshore wind power is also expected to play a key role not only in decarbonizing power grids but also in providing the renewable electricity needed for making “green” fuels like hydrogen for cargo shipping, aviation and steelmaking.
An analysis by BloombergNEF says offshore wind power around the world is on track to hit 504 gigawatts in cumulative installations by 2035, a tenfold increase from last year’s record numbers.