Catching the Wind: State Actions Needed to Seize the Golden Opportunity of Atlantic Offshore Wind Power
"Offshore wind power offers a golden opportunity to meet our coastal energy needs with a clean, local resource that will spur investments in local economies."
The Atlantic coastline is at the epicenter of America’s energy and environmental challenges, with state leaders currently facing critical decisions to meet the region’s growing energy demands and protect our communities and wildlife from the impacts of climate change. The cities, metropolitan areas, and sprawling suburbs that stretch along the East Coast have a massive, pollution-free energy resource ready to meet these challenges – offshore wind.
Responsibly developed offshore wind power offers a golden opportunity to meet our coastal energy needs with a clean, local resource that will spur investments in local economies - creating unparalleled job growth and avoiding the need to export hard-earned energy dollars outside the region. For over twenty years, Europe has been reaping these benefits of offshore wind power – including over 58,000 jobs - and countries around the globe are rapidly mobilizing to tap their offshore wind resources using today’s commercially-available, advanced technologies.
Thanks to the leadership of the federal government, forward-thinking state leaders, resolute wind industry pioneers, and engaged stakeholders, this immense clean energy resource is finally within reach. This report documents the unique benefits of Atlantic offshore wind power and highlights key progress made to date, while identifying the critical actions state leaders must take to build on this foundation and finally bring this game-changing clean energy solution online.
Key report findings include:
- Offshore Wind Can Supply Massive Amounts of Pollution-Free Power When and Where We Need It Most. All along the Atlantic coast lies a valuable energy resource that can provide clean power at times of peak energy demand. For example, meteorological towers have confirmed strong, consistent wind speeds off of New England and New York during critical high electricity demand periods when the most expensive and polluting power sources are used – afternoons, summer heat waves, and winter cold snaps.
- Areas Already Designated for Offshore Wind Power Development Could Power Over 5 Million Average American Households. The federal government has completed environmental reviews for over 1.5 million acres along the Atlantic Coast with 16,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity generation potential, and has or is set to lease these areas to offshore wind developers for pre-development activities. This is a massive, local clean power opportunity currently available to state energy planners with the capacity to power the equivalent of all household in New Jersey and South Carolina combined.
- Offshore Wind Power Could Save Millions as Part of a Diverse Energy Portfolio. Diversifying our energy mix is critical for protecting ratepayers from price spikes in the volatile fossil fuel markets. A new 2014 study estimates a $350 million per year reduction in energy costs from adding 1,200 MW of offshore wind energy to New England’s grid, a modest projection based on areas already designated for offshore wind development. This savings would result in a 2% reduction for ratepayers.
- Offshore Wind Power Will Spur the Creation of Good-Paying Jobs. In Europe, 70 offshore wind projects across 10 countries are producing over 6,500 MW of power and currently supporting over 58,000 jobs in both coastal and inland communities. Today, offshore wind power is a booming global industry with over $20 billion in annual investments projected for the next 10 years. Due to the sheer size and complexity of offshore wind components and construction needs, this industry offers dramatic potential for new local job creation for America.
- Offshore Wind Power Can Be Developed in an Environmentally Responsible Manner that Protects Wildlife: As decades of experience in Europe indicates, strong environmental requirements are needed to ensure that offshore wind power is sited, constructed, and operated in a manner that avoids, minimizes, or mitigates impacts to coastal and marine wildlife.
There is unprecedented momentum along the coast in advancing offshore wind power, with two projects within sight of the finish line and substantial areas of federal waters currently available for leasing.