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Biden Creates OffShore Wind Zone

The area will creates tens of thousands of union jobs in offshore wind and manufacturing

Kris LaGrange's picture
Mar 30, 2021

Across the country, states are moving away from fossil fuels and moving towards renewable sources of energy. One of those sources is offshore wind. While popular in other parts of the world, offshore wind has never really taken off in the United States, with most of our wind production being land-based. However, if the United States wants to meet the environmental goals many states have set and which were agreed to under the Paris Climate Accord, offshore wind will be needed.

On Monday, President Joe Biden took a big step to push offshore wind by setting a target of generating 30 gigawatts of power from offshore windmills by 2030. To meet this goal, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced that the Interior Department will create a New Wind Energy Area offshore between Long Island and the New Jersey Coast. This area will be leased out to wind companies to build offshore wind farms.

The Interior Department also announced that it was moving ahead with a key environmental review that is needed to permit the Ocean Wind project. This offshore wind project would be off the coast of New Jersey and would be the third commercial offshore wind project in the United States. The Ocean Wind project is being built in partnership with Orsted and Public Service Electric and Gas (PSEG), a utility that employs thousands of union workers in the IBEW and UWUA. Orsted built the first offshore wind farm in the United States off the coast of Rhode Island.

The White House cited studies that found the new wind area in the New York Bight will create 25,000 development and construction jobs between 2022 and 2030. It would also create 7,000 jobs in the community supporting the project. They also found that it could create an additional 4,000 operation and maintenance jobs annually. The Biden administration also believes that by generating 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power nationally, 44,000 union workers will be employed in the industry and 33,000 jobs would be created in communities supported by offshore wind activity. They estimate that 30 gigawatts of power should be enough to power 10 million American homes a year and prevent 78 million metric tons of CO2 emissions from entering the atmosphere.

In addition to the environmental impact that generating that much power from a renewable source would have, the creation of new wind farms has the potential to not just help construction trades members and IBEW members, but also to help those working in manufacturing. The Biden Administration is pushing for these wind turbines to be made in the United States, saying that one to two new factories will need to be built to manufacture the components, which include wind turbine nacelles, blades, towers, foundations, and subsea cables. They estimate that about 7 million tons of steel will be needed as well. Currently, it takes the average US steel mill four years to produce that much steel, so this would be a huge boost to the industry.

“This offshore wind goal is proof of our commitment to using American ingenuity and might to invest in our nation, advance our own energy security, and combat the climate crisis,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “DOE is going to marshal every resource we have to get as many American companies, using as many sheets of American steel, employing as many American workers as possible in offshore wind energy—driving economic growth from coast to coast.”

According to the IBEW, members in New Jersey are already working on building a New Jersey Wind Port that will serve as a hub not only for the Ocean Wind project but for the other eight offshore wind projects that are in development from Maine to Southern Virginia. The port will include a production and assembly facility that will be key to ensuring that these projects are completely union-made.

“As renewable energy continues to grow across North America, especially as we face the reality of climate change, the wind port represents a real growth opportunity for the IBEW,” IBEW President Lonnie Stephenson said. “It’s fitting that this project is being developed literally in the shadow of Hope Creek’s cooling tower, because it’s going to take a mix of zero-carbon energy like nuclear, wind, and solar to truly reduce carbon emissions in the U.S. We’re eager to capture as much of that work as possible in ways that preserve quality middle-class jobs and protect our overall energy future.”

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