Offshore wind boosted as Biden, East Coast governors team up

FILE – Deepwater Wind’s turbines are seen in the water near Block Island, R.I. on Aug. 23, 2019. The White House will launch a formal partnership of 12 East Coast governors to support the growing offshore energy industry. It is an important part of President Joe Biden’s climate change plan. (AP Photo/Rodrique Ngowi, File)

MATTHEW DALY Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is launching a formal partnership with 11 East Coast governors to boost the growing offshore wind industry, a key element of President Joe Biden’s plan for climate change.

Biden administration officials will meet with governors, labor leaders, and make commitments to expand key parts of the offshore sector, including ports and manufacturing facilities.
The partnership includes governors from Connecticut, Delaware and Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts. New Hampshire, New Jersey. New York. North Carolina. Pennsylvania. Rhode Island.

GO DEEPER U.S. offshore Wind Supply Chain: By the Numbers

In working with states and the private sector, the White House said it will “provide Americans with cleaner and cheaper energy, create good-paying jobs and invest billions in new American energy supply chains,” including the construction of wind turbines, shipbuilding, and servicing.

Biden has set the goal of deploying 30 gigawatts (or offshore wind power) by 2030. This would be enough to supply electricity to 10,000,000 homes, support 77,000 workers, and generate $12 billion annually in private investment. Offshore wind is a key component in the Democratic president’s plan to make the nation’s electric grid carbon-free by 2035.

The Biden administration approved two large-scale wind farms, Vineyard Wind in Massachusetts, and South Fork Wind off New York City and Rhode Island. Both are being built using union labor. The Interior Department is currently reviewing 10 other offshore projects that, if approved by the department, would produce 22 gigawatts clean energy.

Leaders celebrate the groundbreaking for South Fork Wind– New York’s first offshore wind project (Courtesy: South Fork Wind)

Danish wind developer Orsted signed a project labor agreement last month with a national union representing 3 million people in the building trades to construct the company’s U.S. offshore wind farms with an American union workforce. Orsted currently operates six offshore projects in five US states.

A national agreement signed with North America’s Building Trades Unions covers contractors working on those projects and future ones, with no termination date on the project labor agreement. It establishes the terms and conditions that union workers must follow to build offshore wind farm, with specific targets to ensure a diverse workforce. It includes provisions for training to help them build the complex infrastructure that costs billions of money.

“We recognize that states are huge players here,” said David Hayes, a White House climate adviser. With a formal partnership, the Biden administration can “work with the governors on policies going forward and help ensure that there is an American-made supply chain for this brand-new industry,” Hayes said in an interview.

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New Jersey Governor. Phil Murphy said in a statement that he and other East Coast governors “are united with our regional and federal partners not just by geography but by a shared commitment to clean and affordable energy, economic opportunity, and a future in which all community members are shielded from the worsening impacts of climate change.”

New Jersey’s status as “a critical supply chain hub uniquely positions us to cultivate the burgeoning domestic clean energy industry as we strive to achieve our (greenhouse gas) reduction goals,” the Democratic governor said.

The federal-state collaboration comes as Biden’s administration announced a plan for seven offshore wind auctions before 2025. One of these auctions was held last month off North Carolina, and another earlier in the year in the New York Bight. Other sales are planned in the Gulf of Maine and the central Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico as well as offshore in California or Oregon.