Last week, more than 800 people gathered in Princeton, New Jersey to build partnerships that will help realize the full potential of offshore wind power as a clean energy solution. The International Offshore Wind Partnering Forum featured speakers from around the globe – those with decades of experience developing offshore wind projects in Europe, those ready to finally launch the industry in the U.S., and those seeking to influence exactly how offshore wind power comes to life on this side of the Atlantic.
The conference was ripe with announcements (like those from U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke detailed below!). And it was set on a backdrop of robust state-level commitments to creating large-scale markets for offshore wind power. The combined efforts of state leadership in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Maryland in recent years have placed the U.S. on track to be powering nearly 3 million homes with offshore wind power by 2030 – and there is still plenty of room for those commitments to grow and for other states to get in the game.
As the host state, New Jersey’s newly revived offshore wind leadership and eagerness to firmly establish a place at the forefront of the U.S. industry shone through from beginning to end.
“This is a complete and utter no-brainer… New Jersey has an enviable location and I am eager for us to take full advantage of it.”
- NJ Governor Phil Murphy
“You’re going to see New Jersey again become a leader of offshore wind in this nation.”
- NJ Senate President Steve Sweeney
“Everything we need to make this a successful vision is before us.”
- NJ First Lady Tammy Murphy
Thrilled to have New Jersey back in the game and to see such momentum building all along the coast, NWF President and CEO Collin O’Mara gave a keynote address to kick off the conference. Collin shared NWF’s parallel commitments: helping advance offshore wind power at a transformational scale, and ensuring that the highest standards of wildlife protection are in place every step of the way.
“Offshore wind power is bringing America into a new clean energy era. With the bold, bi-partisan leadership of key state and federal leaders, offshore wind power will transform the East Coast into an energy powerhouse with proven technology available today, powering millions of homes and business, cleaning the air and creating tens of thousands of local jobs. Wildlife and people share the same planet, breath the same air and depend on our natural systems such as the Delaware River which is threatened by fossil fuel development. We can and must build offshore wind projects that protect wildlife and as such we will be saving wildlife and people’s collective future together.”
- NWF President & CEO Collin O’Mara
On the final day of the conference, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke gave closing remarks centered on a national vision of energy dominance. He highlighted the importance of producing more energy domestically and the key role offshore wind power can play in realizing greater energy independence. And he gave a nod to the need to do it right, contrasting offshore wind power with the environmental risks inherent to offshore drilling:
“Energy dominance does not mean skirting environmental stewardship.”
- U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke
Zinke closed the event with two announcements, both marking important steps forward to increase the amount of area designated for offshore wind development. By the end of 2018, two areas previously identified off of Massachusetts will be auctioned to developers, and the Interior Department will move toward narrowing and identifying interest in new areas off of New York.
For those of us who have been following the U.S. offshore wind power story for years, last week felt different than conferences past. It felt like being right on the cusp of a moment we all will remember as a turning point. It also brought a sobering reminder of just how how high the stakes have become – how important it is that this new U.S. industry starts strong and with integrity to the wildlife and recreation and economic activity that it will share the ocean with. NWF is proud to bring our voice and our advocacy to the table to help ensure that in the not-so-distant future we can point to hundreds of responsibly sited and developed U.S. offshore wind turbines as emblems of our ability to come together around a truly game-changing climate solution.
- Massachusetts is set to announce the winning project(s) to build the first round of large-scale offshore wind power for the Commonwealth by the end of this month.
- Connecticut received several offshore wind proposals last week and will announce in June whether any of them will move forward.
- Both New York and New Jersey are working through the details of how they plan to meet their massive offshore wind goals – details and public comment opportunities coming soon!
Call on your Governor to be an offshore wind leader!