Will Federal and State Leaders Take Advantage of Our Golden Opportunity
Maine can protect the environment and create jobs while powering our homes and businesses with local, clean energy, but only if our elected officials and regulators take the right steps now, according to a new report released today by the National Wildlife Federation, Environment Maine, Natural Resources Council of Maine, Conservation Law Foundation and others. The Turning Point for Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy: Time for Action to Create Jobs, Reduce Pollution, Protect Wildlife & Secure America’s Energy Future details the economic and environmental benefits of offshore wind energy, potential obstacles to progress, and a prosperous path forward.
Maine has taken several steps to accelerate the development of offshore wind in recent years, including through bipartisan legislation, passing state bonds for research and development, winning competitive federal grants and the establishment of task forces and other working initiatives. Inspired in part by Maine’s heavy dependence on imported fossil fuels, policymakers, business leaders and others have sought to capitalize on the state’s huge offshore wind reserves, including by positioning Maine as an early leader in order to attract greater private investments, including in manufacturing, that will lead to many more jobs. Although those actions are beginning to bear early fruit, further progress depends on state and federal officials taking concrete actions to move offshore wind forward.
“America’s Atlantic coast has some of the best offshore wind energy resources in the world, the technology to harvest it is ready right now, and we have workers ready to do the job,” said Catherine Bowes, the National Wildlife Federation’s senior manager for new energy solutions and lead author of the report. “We need to take advantage of this golden opportunity to make our electricity supply cleaner, more wildlife-friendly, and more secure.”
“Offshore wind in Maine is not only good for the environment, but is also good for the economy and for creating local jobs. Our workers stand ready to help Maine develop our offshore wind resources and keep jobs at home,” said Don Berry, president of the Maine AFL-CIO.
“The fact that StatOil has applied to build four floating turbines in the deep waters off Maine’s coast shows that our state is a center of gravity for progress on offshore wind. We’ve gotten this far thanks to the leadership of the Ocean Energy Task Force and the Legislature. Now it’s time to move full steam ahead—for Maine’s environment, economy, and energy independence,” said Representative Stacey Fitts of Pittsfield, who is the House Chair of the Joint Committee on Energy, Utilities, and Technology.
“Maine people win twice with offshore wind energy – not only does our economy benefit from the jobs and energy security that offshore wind energy brings, but as a coastal state, we benefit from cutting the climate-changing carbon pollution that’s fueling sea-level rise and threatening our shores and fisheries,” said Dylan Voorhees of the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “Unfortunately there is still a disconnect between the opportunity before us and action needed to achieve big benefits. Congress needs to set aside partisan bickering and send a clear signal that America is committed to clean energy.”
“In the race up and down the Atlantic to have the first offshore wind project, we can’t let Maine fall behind. To get us over the finish line so we can start producing pollution-free energy and creating local jobs from offshore wind development, Maine’s leaders need to act now. Congress must extend the offshore wind tax credit before it expires at the end of the year, and Governor LePage must send a clear signal that he supports this clean energy source that hold so much potential for Maine,” said Environment Maine Director Emily Figdor.
Ivy Frignoca, Staff Attorney for the Conservation Law Foundation adds: “CLF is excited to see over a decade of offshore wind advocacy coming to fruition. In Maine, much more must be done to help offshore wind realize its promise as a cornerstone of our clean energy future, starting with supporting the Hywind Maine pilot project that will test floating turbine technology. CLF will continue to use its expertise to assure that offshore wind is responsibly yet expeditiously deployed to replace dirty energy sources with clean home-grown power.”
This report is being released just as the clock is ticking down on critical tax incentives for offshore wind energy. At the end of this year, the Investment Tax Credit and Production Tax Credit for wind energy are set to expire. Maine’s Senators have led the way by cosponsoring legislation to extend these credits, with critical action needed by the end of the year.
The report highlights the vast amount of offshore wind energy available and the enormous economic and environmental potential from investments that will transition Maine and other parts of the region toward a clean, home-grown energy source. The report catalogues progress to-date on policy, regulatory reforms and strategic public investments, and describes the Atlantic region’s place in an international race to develop offshore wind—and particularly in Maine, deep-water offshore wind.
Below are some highlights from the report specific to Maine:
• Offshore Wind Potential: The 2010 NREL Assessment identified approximately 157 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind technical energy potential within 50 nautical miles of Maine’s coast, and the State of Maine has estimated the Gulf of Maine’s wind energy potential to be 149 GW within 50 nautical miles – enough to power nearly 40 million homes.
• Status of Offshore Wind Energy Permitting Process: StatOil North America has proposed a floating turbine pilot with four turbines, which are each three megawatts, about 12 nautical miles off the coast of Maine. Federal and State permitting and regulatory authorities are reviewing the proposal and soliciting public input.
• Policy & Law: Maine law requires utilities to produce 40% of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2017, 10% of which must come from new renewable energy projects. Maine participates in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. On July 30, 2012, Governor LePage joined the New England Governors in passing a resolution to coordinate regional renewable energy procurement, including a commitment to issue a joint Request for Proposals for renewable power contracts in 2013. Maine has implemented legislation that sets an ambitious goal of producing 5 GW of electricity from offshore wind turbines by 2030.
The Turning Point for Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy: Time for Action to Create Jobs, Reduce Pollution, Protect Wildlife & Secure America’s Energy Future is available online at: www.nwf.org/offshorewind
The National Wildlife Federation is America’s largest conservation organization inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children’s future.
The Natural Resources Council of Maine is a nonprofit membership organization protecting, restoring and conserving Maine’s environment now, and for future generations. NRCM works statewide for clean air and energy, and healthy woods, waters and wildlife. NRCM harnesses the power of science, the law, and the voices of more than 12,000 supporters to protect the nature of Maine.
The Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) protects New England’s environment for the benefit of all people. Using the law, science and the market, CLF creates solutions that preserve natural resources, build healthy communities, and sustain a vibrant economy region-wide. Founded in1966, CLF is a nonprofit, member-supported organization with offices in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.
Environment Maine is a citizen-based environmental advocacy organization working to preserve Maine’s open spaces, protect clean air and water, and steer the state toward a clean energy future.