Offshore Wind Workforce Development On The Horizon

2019-07-29T17:51:56+00:00 June 17, 2019|
(Credit: Ionna22/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0))

(Credit: Ionna22/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0))

From: Ocean News Weekly/ By: Ocean Leadership Staff 

What It Was

The House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held a hearing titled, “Building a 21st Century American Offshore Wind Workforce.”

Why It Matters

As the offshore wind industry expands — there are currently 15 active leases in the Atlantic — it is crucial that we understand the impact of growth and related infrastructure on the environment, economy, and local communities. The expansion of America’s offshore wind industry would not only provide a domestic source of clean, renewable energy but also the potential for thousands of new jobs. Several states have already committed to expanding offshore wind capabilities, and continued workforce development is needed to fully capture the benefits of this industry.

Key Points

The legislative hearing focused on the Offshore Wind Jobs and Opportunity Act (H.R. 3068) and the impact it could have on the United States’ nascent offshore wind enterprise. Block Island Wind Farm, the first commercial offshore wind farm, has created more than 300 jobs to-date and uses just five turbines to power 17,000 homes in Rhode Island, shared Mr. Michael Williams (Interim Co-Executive Director, BlueGreen Alliance). Dr. Stephanie McClellan (Director, Special Initiative on Offshore Wind) stated that seven states on the Atlantic seaboard have collectively committed to creating nearly 20 gigawatts of wind power by 2030.

The manufacturing and installation of these offshore wind turbines would present an almost $70 billion revenue opportunity to businesses in the United States offshore wind power supply chain. The Offshore Wind Jobs and Opportunity Act would establish a federal grant program to educate and train the next generation of American offshore wind workers by prioritizing grants to community colleges, organizations that service minority populations, and those helping workers from other industries transition to the offshore wind industry.

Representative Bill Keating (MA-9), the bill’s sponsor, served as a witness and spoke about the projected job growth of the offshore wind industry, which could employ more than 36,000 workers within a decade. He expressed the need for a federal training program to develop a domestic workforce, as offshore wind projects rely on skilled labor and advanced manufacturing for construction, installation, maintenance, and operations. Dr. Christopher Hart (President and Managing Director, Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind, LLC; and Head of U.S. Offshore Wind Development, EDF Renewables North America) emphasized that economic growth and job training needs are not limited to states where turbines are located. He shared how the offshore wind industry could be strengthened by leveraging existing infrastructure and supply chain expertise from the offshore oil and gas sector and by utilizing transferrable skills shared from the onshore wind industry.

Ms. Lisa Linowes (Executive Director, WindAction Group) cautioned the subcommittee on the cost-competitiveness of offshore wind energy compared to conventional energy resources and spoke about projections inflating new job creation number and potentially estimating job benefits.

Quotable

“Offshore wind is good for our planet, it is good for our economy, and it is good for national security.”— Chairman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47)

“Today, we will discuss H.R. 3068, the Offshore Wind Jobs and Opportunity Act, sponsored by Representative Keating. This legislation would authorize $25 million dollars per year for five years for job training grants administered by the Department of Interior for the offshore wind sector. While I support all of the above energy strategy, which includes offshore wind development, I have several concerns about this legislation which I hope we can discuss in detail today. ”— Ranking Member Paul Gosar (AZ-4)

“As the offshore wind industry grows, it is equally important to ensure that projects are developed responsibly, with strong protections in place for coastal and marine wildlife. We support the development of science-based best management practices for offshore wind development and believe that environmental mitigation must be a key priority for any project.”— Mr. Michael Williams (Interim Co-Executive Director, BlueGreen Alliance)

Next Steps

The Offshore Wind Jobs and Opportunity Act (H.R. 3068) awaits subcommittee markup. If the bill is approved by the subcommittee, it will move to the full committee for consideration.

Find Out More

Watch the full hearing

Related coverage from the Consortium for Ocean Leadership          

Want to receive articles like this straight to your inbox? Sign up for our newsletter!