The third annual American Wind Week was a once again a great success as the industry continues to fundamentally change the country’s energy landscape. Last week, there were dozens of events across the country, and elected officials also took time to recognize the occasion, including U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, visiting the LM Wind Power Little Rock plant.
However, just because Wind Week is over doesn’t mean it’s time to ease up on advocacy. In fact, an important decision by the U.S. Department of the Interior regarding the emerging offshore wind energy industry is upcoming. The issue concerns approval of the Vineyard Wind Projects’ Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS)—but a favorable decision would benefit the entire industry.
Under Executive Order 13807, One Federal Decision, the agency has up to 24 months to process environmental reviews. A delay will erode investor confidence and slow down the economic growth that the offshore wind industry is bringing to the U.S. On the other hand, a favorable and timely decision on the Vineyard Project FEIS this month will allow this project to move forward as planned in 2021 under its Massachusetts contract; that outcome, in turn, will give investors the certainty needed to move forward with billions of dollars’ worth of new offshore wind projects rather than investing in other countries.
That’s why in the spirit of this year’s Wind Week theme, “wind powers opportunity,” CRES joined the Business Network for Offshore Wind and National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) in signing a letter to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt asking for the Vineyard Project to be approved soon.
The letter cites several pending projects as reason to promptly approve the Vineyard Project.
“In the fourth quarter of 2018, the sale of three wind energy areas provided more than $400M to the U.S. Treasury. In the same quarter, two private transactions totaling over $700M were made, when Ørsted purchased Deepwater Wind and its projects, and Shell and EDF purchased a New Jersey Offshore Wind Energy Area. At the beginning of 2019, Virginia utility Dominion announced $1.1B commitment, the largest utility investment in offshore wind so far,” the letter reads.
The overall potential of the offshore wind industry cannot be denied. It is projected to create 34,000 American jobs by 2020 and 181,000 jobs by 2050. The Business Network for Offshore Wind reports that a modern offshore wind energy turbine at an appropriate site will generate 20 million units of electricity each year, enough to meet the annual needs of over 11,000 households each year, and that the mid-Atlantic coast offers strong wind resources that are close to approximately 45 percent of the nation’s population and associated energy needs.
Wind has thrived in our country’s open spaces thus far; but taking advantage of the area offshore is the only logical way to leverage its power along the crowded Eastern Seaboard. Hopefully, future American Wind Weeks will be able to celebrate new momentum behind offshore wind with the approval of the Vineyard Project. In the meantime, the wind energy industry and other clean energy industries are looking forward to National Clean Energy Week, which will be celebrated this year on September 23-27.