States Continue Efforts to Advance Offshore Wind Implementation
March 15, 2022
Northeastern States Believe Coordination and Healthy Competition are Key to Offshore Wind Growth and Sustainability
Washington, D.C. – States across the Northeast are continuing their work to implement offshore wind policy to meet ambitious clean energy goals. In 2022, at least 10 states are working on offshore wind legislation, building on the successful momentum of 2021 policy.
Last year also saw a historic federal commitment from the Departments of Interior, Energy, and Commerce to achieve 30 Gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030. Meeting this target would not only trigger more than $12 billion per year in capital investment but would also avoid 78 million metric tons of CO2 emissions.
“In New Jersey, our Governor Phil Murphy has committed to the construction of 7,500 megawatts of offshore wind energy,” said New Jersey State Senator Bob Smith. “We are working hard to do our part to mitigate global climate change!”
With 2030 quickly approaching, bold state legislation focused on clean offshore wind energy can help achieve this goal in order to mitigate the climate crisis.
“For those of us who call our nation’s shoreline home, the climate crisis is not a hypothetical threat, but very much real and existential to our way of life,” said Massachusetts State Senator Julian Cyr. “In Massachusetts, we have set lofty, yet attainable, net-zero goals that require a shift to clean, renewable energy. Offshore wind energy is a game-changer, not only in terms of helping us reach net-zero goals, but for advancing job creation and supporting economic development. Now is the time for coastal states to seize the moment and become leaders in the industry.”
“The climate crisis demands that we aggressively transition our energy to renewable and clean sources,” said Rhode Island State Senator Dawn Euer. “Offshore wind needs to be part of our energy future and we need to ensure that those projects are developed responsibly taking into consideration workers, fisheries, local supply chains, and marine mammal protection.”
To help Rhode Island achieve these goals, Senator Euer introduced S.B. 2583 which would require a request for proposal for up to 600 megawatts of new offshore wind by August 2022. The bill would also require bidders to provide environmental mitigation plans, provide site layout plans for onshore infrastructure, and include specific considerations related to employment.
In order to become leaders in the offshore wind industry, Northeastern states are looking towards different methods of cooperation and ensuring that the transition to offshore wind is sustainable and beneficial to communities. One idea raised by a state legislator is to establish a New England Council for Offshore Wind on Labor and Environmental Standards.
“We should combine forces and create a New England Council for Offshore Wind on Labor and Environmental Standards, made of a coalition of state legislators, ensuring to protect our North Atlantic Right Whales, the rest of the marine environment, and creating massive amounts of jobs for the Northeast,” said Connecticut State Representative David Michel. “We have the wind and we are the customers. Let’s make sure the most vulnerable communities we are trying to protect get the careers in this new industry.”
Northeastern states not only share the same environment and species, but also the same precursors for efficient and low-cost offshore wind. These coastlines have some of the nation’s strongest winds, and densely populated coasts with high energy demand near shore. Through healthy competition amongst states in terms of sustainable ideas, clean energy goals, and other topics, they will ensure the development of offshore wind with long-lasting positive outcomes.
“Massachusetts’ nation-leading offshore wind development has proved that the transition to renewable energy is not only necessary to meet our climate goals, but can also boost our economy and create well-paid jobs,” said Massachusetts State Representative Dylan Fernandes. “Together, the Northeast must continue building on this work and utilize the power of offshore wind to lead our region into a renewable, clean future that strengthens local communities.”
On March 3, the Massachusetts House passed a bill that would create investments and incentives for offshore wind development in the state. If enacted, Massachusetts would invest hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade in infrastructure, innovation, job training, and transmission upgrades. Future procurements would also strengthen protections for fisheries and the environment.
These states also recognize their shared maritime heritage which houses a robust fishing industry. Offshore wind can be done sustainably to protect these important ocean users and the cultural heritage in the region.
“Research will allow us to balance this industry development with our state’s maritime heritage and existing marine uses to ensure sustainable preservation of the natural resources in the Gulf of Maine,” said Maine State Representative Vicki Doudera. “It means that our state, the fishing industry, and many others can learn about potential impacts of floating offshore wind together, in order to ensure Maine develops this industry in a manner that capitalizes on our innovative technology and abundant resources while protecting our interests, industries, environment, and values.”
“The states must play a leading role in advancing renewable offshore wind energy while protecting our coastlines, fisheries, and marine environment,” said New Hampshire State Senator David Watters. “New Hampshire has legislation through a declaration of “consistency” to extend state regulatory authority into Federal waters to protect fisheries and the marine environment, and secure funding for mitigation. States can also ensure these protections are included in offshore wind development through renewable energy contract procurement regulation.”
In February, the New Hampshire Senate passed two offshore wind bills. The first requires the public utilities commission to ensure that certain criteria regarding impact and use studies are met before approving offshore wind power purchase agreements. The second directs the office of offshore wind industry development to advise on the development of offshore wind in the Gulf of Maine and the respective power purchase agreements.
States are stronger when they act together. Each of these legislators is a member of NCEL’s Coastal Working Group, which meets monthly to discuss and share lessons learned on a variety of coastal issues including offshore wind. In December, many of these legislators came together for a policy strategy session focused on offshore wind where they had a chance to hear from experts about the topic, learn about others’ successes, and ways to prepare for the legislative session.
“These legislators are leading the transition to offshore wind and protecting our coasts for generations to come,” said Dylan McDowell, NCEL Deputy Director. “By coordinating and working together on the growth of a new industry, these lawmakers can ensure that development is done in a sustainable way to both protect marine habitats while also aiding in the transition to renewable energy.”
Track all of the offshore wind legislation from 2022 at ncelenviro.org/offshore-wind.
Created by and for state legislators, the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that organizes over 1,200 environmentally-committed state legislators from all 50 states and both parties. NCEL provides venues and opportunities for lawmakers to share ideas and collaborate on environmental issues.