New Report Shows Progress, Opportunities For Offshore Wind

Media Contacts

Environment Georgia Research & Policy Center

Atlanta, Ga. (July 10, 2014) – A new report out today by the National Wildlife Federation outlines the significant progress made in the American offshore wind industry in recent years, and calls for leadership to fully realize the industry’s potential.

The Atlantic coast’s offshore wind resource is enormous, and thanks to the leadership of local and state leaders and the support of the federal government, the development of offshore wind is close at hand. Projects in Massachusetts and Rhode Island are scheduled to begin construction within the next 18 months, while six other states have formally designated areas for offshore wind development. Put together, fully developing all of these wind energy areas could power millions of American homes. Georgia has not yet begun the process of identifying commercial lease areas for offshore wind, but Georgia Power is in the process of obtaining a lease for research purposes offshore Tybee Island.

“The Atlantic Ocean is a clean energy and job-producing goldmine,” said Catherine Bowes, senior manager for climate and energy at the National Wildlife Federation. “With areas offshore that can power 5 million homes currently available for leasing, it is a critical moment for state leaders to seize this golden opportunity and create a clean energy future powered by American workers that can protect our wildlife and communities from the dangers of climate change.”

The report details some of the many benefits that are offered by the development of offshore wind energy. The resource is located close to end users since population centers are numerous along the coast, which is particularly significant given the anticipated growth in both population and energy demand in years to come. Since wind energy has no fuel cost, it provides long-term price stability and studies have estimated hundreds of millions of dollars of annual future savings in states that may benefit from offshore wind farms. Savings may also be achieved by sending less money out of state for fuel imports, and because of the fact that offshore winds blow when we are using the most electricity, on hot summer afternoons.

Not only is offshore wind an ideal power source, but it is also a source of major economic growth. The offshore wind industry is creating massive investment opportunities and job growth around the globe. In Europe alone, 70 offshore wind projects support 58,000 jobs in both coastal and inland communities. Global projections estimate that $20 billion will be invested in the offshore wind industry every year for the next 10 years.

“The winds off our coasts  are poised to provide  Atlantic Coast States with tremendous amounts of pollution free energy that can meet our energy needs while reducing pollution that is altering our climate, ” said Jennette Gayer, Director of Environment Georgia.  “To reap the environmental and economic benefits of offshore wind, we need a strong commitment from state leaders, in partnership with the federal government and key stakeholders.” 

State-level leadership and private industry investment have been the key drivers of the offshore wind industry’s success thus far. The common factor in states seeing early investment in the offshore wind industry are those whose state legislatures and governors have been the most proactive.

Chris Carnevale, Coastal Climate and Energy Coordinator for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy said, “Georgia Tech, Georgia Power, and various members of the Georgia Wind Working Group have done the initial work to show that offshore wind can work for Georgia, but we need real leadership from Governor Deal and the General Assembly to make the opportunity a reality. Governor Deal can start by requesting a joint offshore wind energy taskforce with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to streamline the federal regulatory process. Our elected officials in Washington D.C. have an important role to play in helping Georgians reap the benefits of offshore wind, by reducing the cumbersome tax burden on this promising industry with the renewal of the Production and Investment Tax Credits for wind energy.”

“Georgia has the opportunity to secure clean, domestic energy from its offshore wind resource,” said David Carr, general counsel of the Southern Environmental Law Center. “However, in order to capture the jobs and clean energy benefits afforded by offshore wind in the near term, state leaders will have to prioritize and implement policies that enable offshore wind development. The offshore wind play will also help the state address the growing threat of sea-level rise by reducing the reliance on dirty energy sources that contribute to climate change.”

Brian O’Hara, President of the Southeastern Coastal Wind Coalition said, “With the lowest costs, great wind resource, and world-class port facilities, the Southeast can play a major role in the emerging U.S. offshore wind industry. But enabling our utilities and industry to fully explore these opportunities is going to take vision and action by state leaders.”