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Elected officials want inclusive, equitable offshore wind power development

by Ramona Duhoux
For security and equitability offshore wind will move America off its dependence on fossil fuels. Over 550 elected officials want inclusive, equitable offshore wind power development to improve health, economies and mitigate climate disasters.

For security and equitability offshore wind will move America off its dependence on fossil fuels

January 31, 2024

To hold back the devastating impacts of the climate crisis, improve health outcomes and become energy independent from fossil fuels, plans are underway to harness electricity from offshore wind. In the process of reaching the federal government’s goal of 30 gigawatts of electric energy powered by U.S. offshore wind by 2030 — 83,000 new American offshore wind union jobs will be created with the ripple effect in the economy adding thousands more. 

Elected Officials to Protect America held a virtual press conference with elected officials from California, New Jersey, New York, and Massachuests and the Albany Chief Commercial Officer to let people know the progress being made from coast to coast with their offshorewind build outs that are equitable, inclusive and environmentally sound. 

The scale of the opportunity is huge.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory report concludes that offshore U.S. wind energy production has the potential to produce 2.8 terawatts of electricity, enough energy to power an estimated 350 million homes, easily surpassing the 144 million housing units now in the country.

“The extreme weather of this past year has been an eye opener for countless communities across America to the existential climate crisis we are living in. Job-creating solutions that benefit our communities and protect our coasts, as offshore wind has immense potential to do, are key to keeping greenhouse gasses in check as we transition off of climate-damaging fossil fuels,” said Dominic Frongillo, Elected Officials to Protect America Executive Director & Co-Founder. “We’re at the vanguard of a new clean, renewable energy industry. 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 is key to a prosperous healthy future.

Elected Officials to Protect America have letters in three states for current and former elected officials to sign on their support for responsible, inclusive, equitable offshore wind development. The EOPA New Jersey letter was signed by 177 lawmakers from across the state. In EOPA New York 175 elected officials have signed, and EOPA’s most recent letter in California 211 elected officials from across the state have signed.

The Atlantic seaboard has the technical potential to produce more than four times our current energy demand, that’s almost double the projected demand in 2050. California’s waters are home to some of the best offshore wind resources in the nation. Currently the state is laying the groundwork to power 25 million homes with 25 gigawatts of clean offshore wind electricity by 2045.

In order for some states to meet their climate clean energy goals, offshore wind power is key. Many states are looking to transfer off of gas and are building the electric infrastructure for electric vehicles. Both are essential to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The federal Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law are providing incentives and tax breaks to help make these transitions happen.

While some East Coast offshore wind build outs are underway, California has just got going.

Massachusetts: For the state to meet its clean energy goals it needs to have 5,600 megawatt of offshore wind under contract by 2027.

“The Vineyard Wind project fueled electric energy to the New England grid for the first time on January 2, 2024, when one turbine delivered approximately five megawatts of power. We are on a path toward energy independence thanks to our nation-leading work with offshore wind,” said Cobi Frongillo, Franklin Councilmember, MA, Deputy Director of Renewable & Alternative Energy | Department of Energy Resources - Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The project expects to have five turbines operating at full capacity early in 2024. Once completed, the project will consist of 62 wind turbines generating 806 Megawatts, enough to power more than 400,000 homes and businesses. In addition to Vineyard Wind, the pipeline includes the 1,200-megawatt Commonwealth Wind project and SouthCoast Wind — formerly known as Mayflower Wind — which plans to produce another 1,200 megawatts.

New York: To achieve a carbon-free power grid by 2040, New York State’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) law mandates that at least 70 percent of New York's electricity come from renewable energy sources by 2030 and calls for the development of 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind energy by 2035, which will power 6 million homes. 

Upon completion, the South Fork, 132 megawatt offshore wind farm off of East Hampton, Long Island will power the community.

“The buildout has shown us that it is possible to work closely with the industry and community to address concerns as this opportunity takes root. The South Fork offshore wind project will generate enough clean energy to the grid that will power 70,000 homes here in East Hampton, giving us hope and a healthy future,” said Cate Rogers, Deputy Supervisor, Town of East Hampton, Long Island, NY.

Coastal load centers have the highest energy demand as roughly 80 percent of Americans live within 200 miles of the coast. Offshore wind can generate significant amounts of electricity close to these consumers. New York State has awarded $300 million for two supply chains to develop and manufacture the equipment for the offshore wind projects in the Capital Region, which will then be shipped down the Hudson River. The Port of Albany is being transformed to meet those demands.

“Albany is central to offshore wind’s supply chain in New York and the nation. The Capital Region has already seen an influx of economic activity because of the tremendous work that is ongoing at the Port of Albany in its transformational development of 100 acres to become an offshore wind manufacturing hub. This site is the largest fully permitted site for offshore wind manufacturing in the United States currently under construction. We hope to be a beacon for other states looking to grow local jobs, and economies while working with an industry that will supply clean energy for our future,” said Megan Daly, Port of Albany Chief Commerce Officer, NY.

New Jersey: New Jersey’s strong, consistent offshore wind and wide, shallow continental shelf enables economical deployment of offshore wind using existing fixed bottom technology.

“This month, when the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities selected two new offshore wind projects totaling 3,742 MW the state confirmed it is back on track to meet our clean energy offshore wind goals,” said Kaleem Shabazz Atlantic City Councilmember, NJ, EOPA New Jersey Leadership Council “We are at the forefront of pioneering a clean, renewable energy sector that has the potential to catalyze workforce development, stimulate economic prosperity, fortify shoreline protection, and bring environmental justice to communities with cleaner air and jobs for those who are too often left behind. With equity and inclusiveness, the future of our state is bright."

Governor Murphy established the state’s offshore wind capacity goal at 11,000 MW by 2040. It gives us a clear path to meet New Jersey’s mandate to generate half the state’s electricity from renewable sources.

“Atlantic City floods all the time from the rising seas. Children miss school regularly because they can't leave their home if it’s surrounded by water. We have to act now to mitigate the climate crisis,” said Caren Fitzpatrick, Atlantic County Commissioner, NJ, EOPA New Jersey Leadership Council. “We have to stop using fossil fuels, and the way to do that is to responsibly build out offshore wind, which will also create thousands of union jobs. It’s a win-win for our economy, our pocketbooks and our health.”

California: The California Energy Commission CEC has set a target of building up to 5 GW of offshore wind energy capacity by 2030 and 25 GW by 2045 as part of its transition to 100 percent clean electricity. 

“With fires, heatwaves, waves and extreme storms flooding communities we know we need to move — and move fast — to develop offshore wind. However, creating a new industry is not without issues. It is critical that we progress offshore wind in a way that reduces negative impacts and ensures that workers and communities receive the benefits of this new industry, and that labor and environmental protections are followed,” said Clint Weirick, Grover Beach City Councilmember, CA. “In order for our state to meet its clean energy goals on our path to energy independence from fossil fuels we must embrace these floating offshore wind turbines that won’t even be visible from the shore.”

Offshore wind has become the centerpiece of the state’s plan to eliminate fossil fuels from the retail electric supply.

“Every day we breathe in exhaust fumes that warm the planet. The oil jacks, near our beautiful city still leak, still send children to hospitals for breathing ailments. Offshore wind represents a big change away from Big Oil. A revolutionary change that will herald a clean energy economy,” said Heidi Harmon, San Luis Obispo former Mayor, CA, EOPA California Leadership Council. “It is critical that we progress offshore wind in a way that ensures our workers and communities receive the benefits from this new industry, and that labor and environmental protections are followed.”

While offshore wind is new to the United States, the technology has been refined for more than three decades in northern Europe. The evidence shows that offshore wind can be developed in ways that protect wildlife, fishing families, and provide sustainable energy for future generations.

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